WA trip--must see

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 20:50
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We are intending to travel from Katherine NT across into WA down the coast back into Vic from mid June this year, are there any places to avoid for security reasons and must see places we should go with limited time. We have 6 weeks and know we need more time but it will happen again later at another time and see this as a basic tour.
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Reply By: Member - eighty matey - Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 21:25

Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 21:25
It sort of depends on what you're driving and what, or whether, you're towing.
Whatever you're in stop in at Lake Argyle for a night or two at least.
A couple of nights at Broome will give a taste. Go to Matsos Brewery for a taste of good food and beer too.

You'll find six weeks isn't very long for a trip of that length.
If you haven't already, work out how many kilometres you'll be doing to work out what your average per day would be.
On the big roads up north it's not hard to knock over 500 or 600 kilometres in a day (or more if need be) but in the more populated areas that'd be a struggle to enjoy.

Have fun,
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Follow Up By: Geoff K4 - Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 21:30

Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 21:30
Towing a van and plan to do some free camping where possible.
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 21:49

Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 21:49
Fair enough.
As I said before, if you haven't already work out how many kms you'll be doing in what timeframe.
It'd also be good for you to work out what your fuel range is because there are a few long distances between fuel stops. Since you're towing it'd be a good thing to work out. Plenty of room to camp across the top. It's a great part of the World. Even if you don't stop anywhere in particular it will still be a great experience.

Hoo roo,
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Reply By: Ken - Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 21:50

Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 21:50
Hi Geoff, on the way west from Katherine to Kununurra don't miss the Zebra Rock Mine. Pretty basic park but they run a fantastic Lake Argyle trip and their fish & chips [silver cobbler] are to die for.
About 10km down the Duncan Road off the Victoria Hwy, not far from the WA border.
Great people, great sunsets on the lake and if you have time excellent fishing trips.
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Reply By: david - Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 22:52

Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 22:52
Hi Geoff, starting from the top some of our favourites. Gibb River Road & Mitchel Falls (this can be a trip in itself), Bungles, Karajini, Exmouth Coast , Carrawine Gorge, would be our main "to go" places. South there is Albany to Esperance, also good camping east of Esperance (depending on weather). As far as security is concerned, take sensible precautions. Just depends on how many "K's" you want to do in the 6 weeks.
Cheers David
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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 23:19

Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 23:19
Hi Jeff

Are you saying you intend to drive from Katherine, around to Western Australia, and in to Victoria all in six weeks Geoff? Best you will see will be the white line down the road and the trees rushing by.

Bearing in mind what we want to see and do are all different, my best spots in WA would have to include the Gibb River Road and off shoots in the Kimberley. Aside from travelling to get there, that deals with two to three weeks for a basic look.

My next favourite is Karijini in the Pilbara; three days minimum to see and walk into the gorges.

Getting home in two weeks will not allow for much more sightseeing.

My personal opinion is that it would be a waste of fuel and a stress to travel so far and bypass so much. Pick a smaller target, enjoy sightseeing and have a real holiday. Next time pick another area to see and enjoy.


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Follow Up By: Ron N - Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 23:55

Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 at 23:55
It's just amazing the number of people who need to see the whole country in a couple of weeks.

I can remember being in Broome a few years back during school holidays, and finding out about the sizeable number of East Coasters who had virtually "flown" 3000-4000 km across the country in big 4WD's, towing vans - only to spend 3 or 4 days in Broome - and then "scream" 3000-4000 kms back again!
That's not a holiday! - and you see nothing but rushing roadside scenery doing that!!

The best way to see the country is to travel less distance and spend more time in a few areas, getting to talk to the locals, finding out about the great local hidden spots and sights, and relaxing!

Australia is a huge land mass, it's more than 10,000 kms around it just following Hwy 1 - but if you investigate all the scenic spots and find the great camping, historical, and fishing places, you will do 30,000 kms!

So I'd suggest, if you're really tight on time, to consider covering a lot less distance, enjoy it more, and work on coming back another time, to do the parts you missed.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 00:11

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 00:11
A while ago I calculated that following main coastal highways that a single "fringe lap", excluding Tasmania and far North Queensland would be 14,000 (article with map available by request). Once you start sightseeing, it is easy to find yourself doing double that amount. When touring, which may involve walking each day to see the sights, allowing for laundry and shopping days, some days driving long hours and some staying for a few days as needed to see key tourist spots, we average only between one and two hundred kilometres per day.


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Follow Up By: tim_c - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 10:06

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 10:06
Some of us have to fit our travel in around commitments such as work. To someone who has 6 weeks to travel WA, I will enviously say "good on you - see what you can, and you'll be able to make a more informed list of what to see next time you can get 6 weeks off".

I took a four week trip a few years ago which covered over 10,000km through central Australia (and yes, I got out of the car and did a few decent hikes - I think I tallied up over 50km). Two years later I was able to take five weeks off to visit the Kimberley - driving to/from home in SE NSW took a significant chunk out of that five weeks of course, and I'm sure we drove past a lot of stuff that the grey-nomads would spend a week at, but we still saw a lot more than if we'd stayed at home. While I would agree that driving across the country for 3-4 days in Broome isn't a holiday (not a sensible one at least!), sometimes people in the east want to see something other than the east, and we simply don't have years to spend doing it, at least not at this point in our lives.

And the grey-nomads we encountered generally all repeated the same sentiment: "we wish we'd started travelling when we were your age".
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Follow Up By: equinox - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 20:59

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 20:59
I'm middle aged and I don't mind a driving long distances just to see a few features or cruise the country.
To be honest it also sets me well for later on in life as I will know where my preferred spots are already.


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Reply By: D-MaxerWA - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 00:25

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 00:25
If you are that keen to get to Victoria and back in that time frame, just fly.

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Reply By: TomH - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 00:27

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 00:27
Alice Springs to Darwin and Jabiru and across to the Kimberley and down the west coast took us from May 5th in Alice to Dec 15th in Adelaide.
Cant even imagine how you would see ANYTHING in that time except the white line.
A much shorter trip this time and leave the distant parts for a good look later.

Our whole trip right around took over a year and 51,000km
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Reply By: Member - pete g1 - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 08:49

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 08:49

Top end of WA...
spare yourself the GRR mid section, just do east & western ends & negate the angst of the GRR middle section. One red gorge is the same as the next, and even less memorable if there's no water & it preserves the rig.

In the time you've allocated, you need to consider what risk/angst you are likely to encounter by driving to all the remote "go to spots" verses selectively picking the best accessable locations..no point in doing GRR & then spending 3-4 days waiting to repair your rig..strike a balance - experience a diversity of Kimberley features .

Fly over Lake Argyle/Bungles & do the day flight to Kalumburu around the Timor Sea

Do eastern end of GRR to El Equestro / Emma Grg, Home Valley ( pushes you into GRR but worth it) backtrack & go south to Bungles, Halls Ck, (Wolfe Ck - optional, but well worth the effort ), back up to Tunnel & Windjana Grg, western end of GRR- Lennard Grg, Derby, Broome &........ did I say Broome !!..a must do..give yourself a week there.
Fly out on a 3-4 day trip to Cape Leveque, Horizontal Falls..& again it saves the rig but provides a great touch of the Kimberley features.

happy travels
Keep smiling....it keeps everyone guessing

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Follow Up By: Member - John - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 09:49

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 09:49
Pete, good advice, but they only have 6 weeks all up..........................
John and Jan

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Reply By: birdnerd - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 09:00

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 09:00
Hi Geoff. As for must see places, agree with what everyone else said. Also just do some Google research of your own. We are heading off in May from Geelong up to the Kimberley, and we only have six weeks. We have been there before but did not see it all and you can't do it all in that time and don't have to. We knew we would be back one day to see places we couldn't on our first trip. Retirement is over 10 years away for us so why wait, we want to do it now while we are able to, who knows what's around the corner! Once you have made a list of must see places, get the map out and do an itinerary, that will give you an idea of the time you have. Safe travels....
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Follow Up By: Member - Min (NSW) - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 16:24

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 16:24
Amanda, I heartily agree with you. It is very easy for folk who are retired to rubbish those who are trying their best to 'get out there' while they are still working. Encouragement is much more helpful. You just have to decide whether you want to do a quick reccy to get a feel for the places you want to return to, as you did with the Kimberley, or make a beeline for a general area and see it thoroughly. Very important to take notes or write a blog.

Wishing you and Geoff a great trip.
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Follow Up By: Geoff K4 - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 20:25

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 20:25
yes this is a quick recci for a soon after trip.
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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 11:56

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 11:56
It always astounds me that when somebody seeks advice about travelling and what to see, the enquirer often gets bagged by what they want to see in the little time available. Often it's the older fraternity that give them the most grief, we don't all have the luxury of being retired and have extended timeframes.
Off my soap box now.
Geoff what I've done twice on our half block trips is use a bit of string that will measure 400km (based on the map legend), and use that as a guide to the distance travelled on average per day (5 hrs of travel at 90km/hr). Mark out a rough track of where you wish to travel ie Katherine to Vic and with that work out the absolute minimum days to get from A to B . In theory your 6wks is 42 days so with that work out how many free days you have that won't be driving days. We found that with the 400k's per day we could do a heck of a lot of on the surface sight seeing and discovered places that we'd gladly go back to at a later date when more time permitted.
As to places to see:
Gregory NP
Timber Creek for theVictoria River boat trip at sunset
Keep Rv NP for the walks, tours, ranger talks and the art
Kununurra (at least 2-3 days so much to see and do)
El Questro (2 days min)
Purnululu (2 days min) you can't take your van in though
Halls Creek (the Old bit)
Fitzroy Crossing & Geiki Gorge & Mimbi Caves
Cut up to Tunnel Creek and out to Derby via the end of the GRR
Derby and a day trip out to the horizontal Falls (expensive but fantastic and you'll talk about it for years)
Broome (I didn't like Broome but that's just me) 2 days minimum
80 Mile Beach
Option now is inland to Karijini or follow the coast to Exmouth and Coral Bay
Coastal Run:
If your van is Off Road to semi off road do the run past Gnarloo stn, Quobba and then to Carnarvon. The coastal views are fantastic and if your van is fully self contained you can camp.
Denham for Monkey Mia & the dolphins also easy access to Steep Point.
Kalbarri (2 days) gorges, fishing and great coastal scenery.
From Geraldton you basically have 3 routes down to Perth if by this time your sick of the coast take the inland route via all the "M" towns (look at your map and you'll se what I mean)
Or the Brand (or Bland as we call it) Hwy
Or the new(ish) Coastal Hwy from just south of Dongara (this road has some steep hills)
Cervantes for the Pinnacles and Stromolites
leave the Sth West and high-tail it home via the Nullarbor.
Enjoy your trip and I wish it was me.
Make sure you give back more than you take

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Follow Up By: birdnerd - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 14:58

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 14:58
Well said Dunc! (and Tim)

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Follow Up By: Member - WBS - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 21:13

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 21:13
Pretty much what Dunc said with a couple of comments.
Horizontal Waterfalls from Broome - Brilliant day trip. Bus to Cape Leveque then fly to the falls and back to Broome.
Karijini NP was one of our very favourite places. A must see in my opinion.
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Follow Up By: Geoff K4 - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 23:48

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 23:48
Thankyou Duncan.
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Reply By: Neil & Pauline - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 17:02

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 17:02
In Kununara the tour taking in a boat trip on Lake Argyle and the back to Katherine by anther boat.
Personally I would give Broome a miss. Bit like an expensive Bali to me.
Mill stream (2 nights) and Karajini is a must see for 3 full days minimum. Should be getting some wild flowers at your time frame in Pilbara.
With your time frame I would stay inland from Karajin, and end up in Kalgoolie, Norsman then home. Bit risky with the weather doing SW and Esperance in June July. leave that for another trip.
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Follow Up By: Geoff K4 - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 20:22

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 20:22
I understand what everyone is saying time wise, this is just a reconnoiter tip, and yes it is a waste of fuel but as we're not quite retired yet a bigger trip will follow.
probably next year. No amount of talking can convince management otherwise.
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Reply By: Robyn R4 - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 21:41

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 21:41
Hi Geoff!
"Basic tours" are better than "no tours"!
I'm a "greying" nomad with another 15-20 years to go. We only get so many weeks' holidays/long service leave, don't we!
When it comes to travelling, do what you can when you can. Doing bigger days' drives and having to go faster than the grey nomads is better than sitting at home, eh?
As a thought...skim past the stuff closer to home if there's "too much" on your list. See the further away things in more detail. The closer-to-home things can be covered in smaller trips. That's why we skim past a lot of Qld now-we've done it so many times and it's almost our back yard.
We did the Kimberley last year (a 4-5 week round trip from the Gold Coast) and I told hubby to miss Broome (I've been before but he hasn't). I knew it was a week to itself and in the future we could fly over and do it in a separate trip.
I have a colleague who flew to Darwin and hired a camper to travel the Kimberley for 3 weeks. Perhaps that's a thought? Skim past that part and come back?
I love talking to grey nomads when we are out and about. I don't think I particularly remember any that I wouldn't happily say hi to when our paths crossed again a few camp grounds later. One day we'll be the grey nomads with other travellers envying our lifestyle.
In the meantime, we get out and do something with the time we have!
Have a wonderful trip!

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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 22:53

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 22:53
Geoff, when taking time off for short holidays with a finite return to work date, rather than have a tight schedule (enough of that at work and a holiday is to escape from that) we would look at the directions, what we could see along the way, and set out in the general direction. No problems if we only a few of our wants in; we would enjoy them and the holiday. Half way through the time, we'd look at an alternative route to tour towards home, with real planning only for the last three days to ensure we got back to our jobs in time.

As an example, one holiday during a hot January (the only time I could get away) was planned for the south coast of Western Australia, but I had researched the Eyre Peninsula with members here 'just in case'. With peak holiday time on the south coast, it was hard to get into the campgrounds so we moved on more rapidly than expected. We managed to spend half our time on the Eyre Peninsula and loved it. If you have to rush and have the pressure of tight schedules, you will get back to work even more in need of a holiday.

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Follow Up By: Geoff K4 - Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 23:56

Friday, Apr 01, 2016 at 23:56
Thanks Motherhen. Work gets in the way of a good thing. We tried to plan things but when you don't know the place we decided to just do the site seeing trip now for the real adventure next time. Every time we go North we see another interesting area so it's a continuous work in progress. We even thought if we find THE spot in WA with work and the area we would ring home and say CYA sometime.
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Reply By: Ozi M - Saturday, Apr 02, 2016 at 12:44

Saturday, Apr 02, 2016 at 12:44
Hi Geoff,

In that time frame I would be looking at the websites for Outback Spirit and APT tours while planning my trip.

These guys have sorted out the most popular places and how to fit them in to a tight itinerary, usually no more than 21 days up north.

When working, I used to basically copy Outback Spirit trips but in my car at my own pace, I found that when talking to friends about my travels they were impressed that we had managed to see all the places they had heard about down south.

They also have a brief description of what to expect at each place, all this info can be found online, add that to the far more detailed info available on here about the places that you particularly like and I am sure you will enjoy it.

I would be taking a short cut in south WA, probably turn at Geraldton across to Kalgoorlie then home, the south of WA has too many places to see.

It does make a nice one month trip from Vic across to Norseman, take a left and do a big circle back to Norseman then home.
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Reply By: Ron N - Saturday, Apr 02, 2016 at 23:46

Saturday, Apr 02, 2016 at 23:46
You can also do what myself and the better half did 22 years ago, when we were still working full time - and we only had a month to see the other side of Oz.

We live in Perth and wanted to see FNQ - so we chucked the HDJ80 Cruiser on a truck and backloaded it to Adelaide from Perth.

I seem to recall it cost less than $300, about a third of the going rate back then, and lots cheaper than driving.

We flew to Adelaide on the cheapest fare available (and they're a LOT cheaper today!) - then picked up the 'Cruiser in Adelaide, and drove Adelaide to Cairns.

We stayed in cheap motels (I've done my time camping!) and we went via Eastern S.A., through Northern VIC., and up the Newell through inland NSW.

We did stop and stay with rellies at a farm at Baradine for 3 days (they were actually living in Eric Rolls house!) - then we drove up the Newell and Cunningham Hwys, through Brizzy, and up the Bruce Hwy to Cairns.

We stayed at a beaut waterfront apartment in Clifton Beach, North of Cairns, for a week, which enabled us to visit the Daintree as well.

When we'd cut out our time in Cairns, we loaded the 'Cruiser on a truck again, and sent it back to Adelaide - on another cheap backload!
Can't recall the exact transport cost now, but it wasn't much different to the cost of backloading the 'Cruiser from Perth to Adelaide.
Once again, the transport cost was far cheaper than driving.

As soon as the 'Cruiser was on its way, we hopped on the big silver bird and flew Cairns to Adelaide.
When we got to Adelaide, we stayed overnight and picked up the 'Cruiser next day - then we set off on the drive to Perth.

We spent a full 31 days away, we drove 9000kms - averaging around about 300kms a day - but we only drove the entire road route, once!

We enjoyed the trip immensely - and in the intervening years since '94, we have been back to individual areas quite often, to explore them in more detail.

There's nothing to stop you doing the same today - working out where the backloads are cheap, and flying between them while your rig is carried.

Air fares are much cheaper today, and trucking costs are also quite reasonable if you hunt down the best deals on the transport websites such as U-Ship, Movingcars.com.au, and FreightSeek.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Apr 03, 2016 at 01:25

Sunday, Apr 03, 2016 at 01:25
Hi Ron

Trucking your own is a much better than the usual fly and hire.

Without trucking the rig, we did a fly in trip to Cairns, but we had a daughter living there at the time with 4wd and camping gear. Yes, the air fares are comparatively cheaper now. It was still a lot cheaper than the cost of driving from one corner of the country to the other, and could be done within a short period of annual leave.


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