El Questro to Derby

Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010 at 10:43

Member - Alex B (WA)

El Questro was excellent! We ended up staying for 5 nights. Our campsite was in a great position, only minutes from the townsite and yet nice and private with no one else around. There are plenty of great walks and Gorges to look at around this area and we made the effort with the girls to walk into El Questro Gorge so they could have a swim. This is stunning but very rocky and we were clambering through the water at times. Both Amy and Zoe had a great time and are now experienced rock climbers after making the 2.6km trip in and out under their own steam! Alex went for a fish down to Popies Hole where he tells us he caught a good size Barramundi but he didn’t have a net or anything to pull it in and it ended up breaking his line. Apparently another larger Barra went crazy, jumping in and out of the water until it managed to spit the lure and escape. The girls and I spent a lazy morning down by the waterhole swimming and lunching in the restaurant. The voting teams arrived Friday morning so we had to queue up and vote. Each Saturday night at El Questro is BBQ night. They light a huge campfire and the chefs cook up a massive BBQ for everyone. Steak, sausages, satays, lamb, Barramundi and a buffet of salads. They had live entertainment, a guy called Chris Matthews who can play several instruments, guitar, banjo, steel string. He sang blues and folky bush songs and he was pretty good too!

Sunday morning we were packed up and ready to hit the road again. We were aiming for Kalumburu and from all the feedback we have had from other travellers the road is terrible and very slow going. We were hearing about lots of flat tyres, broken shocks and really bad corrugation. We figured we would be ok as long as we took it easy!...

About half an hour into our journey, heading down the Gibb River Rd we had to pull over. Yes, a flat tyre! Alex changed it over and we figured we could get it repaired at Drysdale Station which was where we were planning to stop overnight. The 60km along Kalumburu Rd from the Gibb River turn off was bad! It took us 1hr 15mins. The corrugation was really rough. Alex was also worried we might have broken one of the shocks. It was a bit hard to tell in the dark but he thought he could see oil splashed under the wheel arch. Fortunately it turned out to be battery acid. One of the covers had managed to work it’s way loose and come off so acid had splashed everywhere! It was nearly dark by the time we arrived at Drysdale Station so we ended up booking one of their rooms. It was an old donga with a bed, bunks, one chair and 2 pedestal fans for $150! There was a very basic (and old) kitchen in the donga next to us where we could make a coffee. We booked in for dinner too as they offer an evening meal each night at 6.30pm. It was curried sausages, vegetable curry, roast lamb and veg. They even have a little bar here!

First thing next morning we took our flat tyre down to the workshop and had to sit and wait for the mechanics to fix it. It was bad news! The puncture had torn right through the tyre and even the thick tread so it was too big to repair. Now we are down to 1 spare and 1 rim! At this point we had to think long and hard about continuing to Kalumburu. It is another 200km of the same conditions. The problem we have, if we continue then we can only afford one more flat and the chances of getting another flat are apparently pretty high. This would mean we are then travelling with no spares. The locals have told us we have no way of getting a tyre to Kalumburu unless we fly one in on a charter somehow and even then we would still have to drive somewhere to pick it up! The other problem we have is that the tyres on the car have to come from over East and will take at least a week to be sent to Perth! We deliberated for ages as we really wanted to get to Kalumburu but eventually decided it wasn’t worth the risk given we had the kids with us. We decided to turn around and start heading back towards Broome as we still need to sort out our tyre problem. We are going to get a new tyre sent up from Perth to Broome next week.

We stopped off at Mt.Barnett roadhouse for lunch and they had no food left apart from 4 semi-warm pies. There was a queue for the phone and most people were busy trying to source more tyres and shocks! There were quite a few people here so I ended up having a chat with some of them while we were queueing for the phone. Turns out the roadhouse has also run out of petrol (ULP). There are quite a few cars here stranded as they can’t go any further without fuel! There are 3 other places to get fuel along the Gibb River Rd within 300km but apparently they have all run out too. Looks like these people are stuck until the fuel truck turns up. It has been delayed and they are hoping it will arrive late tomorrow afternoon. Looks like there will be a lot of campers at the roadhouse tonight! We hit the road again fairly quickly as we wanted to get to Derby which was still another 300km. We came to the end of the Gibb River Rd around 6.30pm and it was only another 8km into Derby. It was dark when we arrived and there only 2 hotels here so we have grabbed a room at the King Sound Resort Hotel. We were all exhausted so we ordered room service and collapsed for the night.

Tuesday morning and we are going for a swim in the hotel pool before we head off again. It is only another 2 hours to Broome from Derby so we can take it easy today! We were going to camp at Cape Leveque but everyone has been telling us to go to Middle Lagoon instead as it is much nicer and not as busy. It is still on the Cape Leveque Rd but not as far down which is good as we don’t want to do too much off road driving until we get our tyre! We will probably spend several nights here if it is nice, camping by the beach, swimming and fishing before heading into Broome to pick up our tyre. The weather has been fabulous, hot and sunny with an average of 34 degrees.

We have been trying to log GPS points as often as possible and from what we can see, the ExplorOz “trackme” facility on the website is rather inaccurate as it hasn’t updated anything that is not covered by mobile reception. The HFoZ website is a lot more precise as most of the calls Alex has logged via the HF phone appear to have worked. If you keep double clicking on each location you can zoom in really close (although it does take a while to load). Probably best to check both websites as we are keeping our blog up-to-date on ExplorOz and our tracking details on HFoZ.

Anyway, time to check out of the hotel and head for Middle Lagoon!...
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