Solo camping in Karijini, old mates in Headland and sand blasted @ 80 mile.

Monday, Nov 22, 2010 at 19:23



The pack up took a little longer than usual but it was not like we had any appointments to keep and we estimated the drive would be a leisurely few hours. Showers, coffee, snacks and supplies packed and a quick stop to fuel up n clean the windscreen and we were bugging out of Newman. We were pretty stoked to be venturing into new territory and hitting a destination that Ren and I have been itching to visit for the last 15 years.

The drive was fairly uneventful, Lee occupying himself with tag books and getting excited about us passing a few 4 trailer Semi’s. Before we knew it we took the turn off the highway into the National Park and with Chicka’s (Navigator 1) secret mud map we were off to find a camp spot just out side the boundaries of the NP.

Knowing that we were staying for about a week, setting up the “Taj Mahal” occurred without too much fuss from Ren and I while Lee explored his new surroundings. A quick slap up meal by the fire and we hit our pillows pinching ourselves in order to check that we were actually in Karijini. Oh, and I forgot to mention not another sole in site for miles ! We had it to ourselves.

Enter the morning sun….the view from the camper ‘windows’ was simply stunning….the only other soul besides us was a shy rock wallaby which quickly bounced away after hearing Lee’s giggles while we rough n tumbled through our ritual morning snuggles.

Red Tail Black had given us the heads up on Weano Gorge – easy enough for a four year old to navigate so we promptly packed the backpack and jumped in the car for an explore. We trundled down the left side of the walk track…slowly down and down until we hit the bottom of the gorge. There had been a bit of a downpour the previous week so we were lucky to have to cross over running water on stepping stones a few times. There were frogs a plenty, too many colours and shapes in the rocks of the gorge to mention and Lee had his first taste of freshly running water. A little further on and we hit the ‘swimming pool’… and Lee and I were in a flash, Lee turned blue and promptly jumped out and the stinging sensation on my thighs told me it might have been a bit chilly for the little maggot. Needless to say, for the rest of our visit, Ren and Lee donned their wetsuits when taking the plunge!

(Written by Ren)
Just a little stroll over the rocks, another pool that lead into a stream through the gorge appeared. Standing admiring the view and thinking that tomorrow we would don our wetsuits and go for a swim up the gorge, a few tourists came clambering down the gorge face. They looked for a bit at the pool we where at and then started to climb up the gorge right near the sign that pictured a person climbing in a red circle with a line through it! Yep again, we encounter what I have now decided to call the “T.I.T.” – “touring ignorant tool”. Not only were these people dressed inappropriately (linen trousers and soft moccasins) they ignored the safety warning but it took Ev and I quite some time to explain to Lee why some people just ignore safety warnings and do silly things whilst wearing silly clothes! They were poms!

After a good day spent exploring we headed back to camp. Chores needed to be done. While I sorted the fire, Lee became acquainted with washing the clothes – outback style, and once the household duties were taken care of we settled with a quiet ‘lemonade’ to watch the sunset (funny how you never get tired of this sort of Groundhog day). We enjoyed another feast courtesy of the campfire… and fell asleep quite content.

Day 2 dawned and Ren felt the urge to take on Mother Nature and do some exercise. Well, it was coming up on week 5 and I think she needed a bit of ‘me’ time away from the boys.

(Written by Ren)
I grabbed my Ipod and headphones and leaving the boys to do whatever they do when I am away, I took a walk up the steepest hill I could find. From an outdoor enthusiasts/biologists point of view it was awesome. You could see where the recent manmade burnings had done their job in encouraging regrowth, the natural lightning induced fires had created some great scenery as well, especially when I saw a number of trees 10 ft tall being blown straight out of the ground with pieces of bubbly, molten rock surrounding them. Evidence of lizards, dingoes, and wallabies, all natives with no noticeable signs of ferals was everywhere and quite the treat, and in parts, the rocks simply gave way to huge crevices and chasms supporting rock patterns of spirals, strict geometric shapes and colours of dark purple through to the palest of yellow and gold. I got to the top and took a minute to take in my surroundings…I felt overwhelmed and belittled (being a big girl, that’s quite a statement!) but joyed all the same. Insisting on not relying on our handy GPS to find my way home, I searched for the camper. It took me a while and after taking a photo that resembles a “where’s Waldo’ pic, I made my way back to the boys eager to find a new gorge to wet my feet.

It was a pretty windy morning I decided to secure the awning of the camper with guy ropes onto some heavy duty tent pegs. After breaky we started to pack up the Cruiser for the days adventure and noticed that the back windscreen was bleep tered…the only thing holding it in place was the tinting. After a few choice words, out came the trusty gaffa tape. We strapped it as best we could and that done we jumped in the car and tried to ignore the bumps in the road on our way to Dales Gorge. Needless to say, by the end of the day, it had to be totally removed and taped up with a plastic sheet until we got to Headland where it could be fixed.

We agreed on checking out the visitors centre before heading out to Dales. Very cool building (designed with a Goanna in mind) and quite informative with regards to the history of the park. Lee’s ice cream sensor had picked up a strong signal and he gravitated towards a freezer that low and behold contained ice creams!!

Ice cream fix sorted and we are at the well renowned Dales Gorge.

(Written by Ren).
The lookout down to Circular Pool is nothing short of stunning... the deep green colour of the water, the mass of healthy, happy trees and plants and the surrounding rock formations. It is breathtaking. Breathtaking in more ways than one for me, as since I have had Lee I have developed a few anxiety issues and as it turns out, I do not appreciate heights too much! I have no idea when it started and have tried to blame it on some kind of hormonal imbalance but am quite annoyed about it and have decided that I have simply succumbed to being a Wuss! I found it quite difficult stepping onto the viewing platform and was more than perturbed when Lee decided to start bouncing around the platform barrier without a care in the world. So much so that I promptly exclaimed to Ev that “Babe, the sign says it is a 3hr return trip to the Pool, so we should leave, NOW!!!

We came across the sign for the Fortescue Falls and proceeded down the goat track, Lee with wetsuit in hand, ready for a swim to take the edge off the already hot day. We were greeted by our first waterfall for the trip, and before we new it, we were relaxing in the chilly waters under the falls. We waded while chatting to some German touros that we had met earlier, Lee and I sat amongst the falling water and while Ren soaked up some much needed sunshine. We leaped from the high rocks and went exploring beyond a mass of reeds. After a few photos we began the climb back to the top.

(Written by Ren)
I had been inspired by Masterchef and had purchased an ‘unglazed terracotta tile”, and decided to redeem myself by treating my family to pizza. I made a huge mess while mixing, rolling the pizza dough and letting it rest ( in a warm and snuggly spot – just like the boys from Masterchef suggested) and after we topped a few trial pizza’s we realized that I had failed!! He he, Lee ended up telling me porkies by saying, “Mum, I really enjoy this pizza” – made with capsicum, vegemite, and tomato sauce, hold the cheese! And Ev, after a couple of doughy, uncooked and burnt pizza’s and a few calm moments of saying “Babe, experimenting is what it is all about”, finally succumbed to food rage and broke out the wraps and toasted them with all the pizza toppings! Farny! All ended well though and after we relished the campfire and discussed the lack of stars in the night sky amongst other things, we fell asleep to the sound of Lee snoring his little heart out.

( Written by Ren)
Next day was another windy morning. So we decided to move the solar panels in front of the camper – out of the wind and not so noticeable should anyone visit us while we were away. Starting to shift the solar panels, Ev starts to yelp saying, Ren, it’s bad!!?? One of the small star pickets we erected to stop the camper awning being blown all over the place seemed to have tried to take the boy on by scraping his shin very close to the bone!! Oh dear, a fine start to the morning!! Poor Ev, not wanting to swear offensively in front of Lee starts to blow raspberries, hopping madly in pain while I fetched the medical kit! I fixed him up as best I could ( with his full direction on cleansing and dressing a wound!) and gave him and lee a choccy bickie as they both felt a little woozy after all the excitement. Quite amusing in hindsight thinking of Ev blowing bubbles in pain and yet still being a responsible parent but even funnier when Ev asks me if he could say that he injured himself while scaling a Gorge…, he he! Not a chance !

We spent the next few days exploring, swimming at Weano as it was Lee’s favorite spot and pretty much just enjoying scoring Karijini to ourselves. Campfires, good food and plenty of coldies in the arvos ment we were very impressed with our first experience of Karijini. We were now all gorged out, and eager to head to Port Headland to catch up with mates I hadn’t seen in a while. We also needed a new rear window for the cruiser, the corrugations in the the pack made sure of that !
So we had breaky, packed up the camper and hit the road heading for the coast of which we hadn’t seen for a while.


We arrived safely in Headland and pulled up at Matty Tuckers place. ]Matt is an old school mate who with various others, including myself, managed to get into our fair share of trouble over the years and although he has been up north working in the mining industry for the last 10 years, we always manage to catch up and of course have a coldy or ten.
Mat is now married with 4 maggots, so things have changed a little, it was a madhouse and Lee was loving having kids to play with.

Mats parents were also in town, they are also traveling, so it was great to catch up with them ,and as luck would have it, Mike, another school mate just got off a seismic boat after 5 weeks so it was a big night of drinking, eating, laughing and stories of old.

We had to wait a couple of days for the rear window, so time was spent hanging with the kids and stocking the pantry for the fishing trip on our way up to Broome. We had a look round town and a after a few BBQ’s hear and there, it was farewell to the Tuckers and time to hit the road for 80 Mile Beach and try and hook into some Threadfin Salmon.


We arrived at 80 Mile caravan park totally amped, well at least I was, I was hanging to go fishing.
We drove in, up over the dune into the park and immediately noticed the devastation the caused by the cyclone that hit hear 12+ months ago. It looked nothing like photos I’d seen of the place with all the trees now missing from the park. The before and after photos in the shop are testament to this.

The place was surprising less busy than expected not for all the grey army long timers that frequent the park we pretty much had an area to ourselves right up on the first dune next to the park rangers house. We piled out of the car and run up to the beach. It was low tide and Lee asked could we drive down to the water as it looked pretty far out but we assured him when he got up in the morning that it would be closer to shore.

After a bit of shell collecting and discovering a few old cow bones that obviously still frequent the beach after the cyclone, we headed back to set up the camper. With the camper set up and mum getting dinner on, I grabbed a coldy and headed to the beach with Lee for some sunset gazing. Dinner was done and it was early to bed with an early start to the day.

It was up and at em the next morning, fishing gear ready, the tyres were let down and we were soon haulin it up the beach to pick a primo fishing spot. With the cruiser parked up, it wasn’t long before we had our lines in the water and we were sitting back waiting for a hook up ! Ren was on first with a baby shark, then Lee’s first fish, a big stinkin catfish which nearly skull dragged him into the drink. He managed to wind it in all by himself and it was high 5’s all round to celebrate his first catch. I managed a shark and a couple of catfish but the day ended with no Threadfin but who cares, we’ll just come back and try tomorrow. The usual arvo beers, sunset gazing and a hearty feed had us in bed and dreaming of a big fish we would hopefully catch the next day.

The next day, things took a turn for the worse in a couple of different ways ! The wind had come in from the east with a vengeance. 30 knots plus and stronger gusts. But that was least of Rens problems, she had woken up terribly I’ll with gastro, and spent the next 4 days in bed surviving on omodium pills and saos.
It was up to Lee and I to hold the fort, the wind was relentless but we fished every day but alas only got a few catfish. The only real excitement was the loss of my beloved Alvey rod and reel to the deep blue……

We picked a spot and I asked Lee if he wanted to fish…..” nah, I’ll just play in the sand for a while thanks dad “….. no worries, so I set about rigging up, cast my mullie in the drink and placed the rod in its holder. “Dad, I want to fish now”…. Of course you do ! so I walked the 5 steps to the back of the cruiser and proceeded to rig up his rod and out of the corner of my eye saw my rod and reel violently yanked from the holder and dragged into the water. DOH ! must have forgotten to set the drag….
The next half hour was spent watching my rod and reel cruise up and down the beach about 50m from shore, obviously still hooked to probably a bloody Threadfin! I shrugged my shoulders and continued fishing with Lees rod who had now once again lost interest and was seeing how high he could get jumping off the tailgate. I spotted a bloke about 100m up the beach that was hooked up and had been fighting it for a good 5mins, I told Lee to run up and see what he caught. Lee eventually came back and told me it was a giant sting ray and he helped him put it back in the water. That same bloke drove past about half hr later, he stopped for chat, discovered we were both EO members and I proceeded to tell him the embarrassing story of my lost rod and reel. “ Funny you should mention that “ he said, and proceeded to produce my rod and reel from the rear of his troopy! You little ripper ! a stroke of good luck saw my runaway rig get caught up in his line down the beach. It still had the fish on it but lost it trying to get it in.
Thanks Redbakk you’re a champ, and Lee said to thank the misses for the chocolate muffin !

With nothing biting, and the wind still howling, it was time to head to Broome. Ren was feeling like gold compared to the last few days and we were excited to be heading up to stay with friends Justin and Brooke in Broome, spend some time doing bugger all on Cable Beach, and Middle Lagoon and Cape Leveque was also on the agenda…..
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