Adelaide to Kimberley - week 1

Sunday, May 24, 2015 at 21:05

Member - Carolyn & Peter L

And so it begins!
Wednesday 20th May 2015
Why is it packing up is such a stressful time, you almost wonder is it all worth it? Several months of preparation, then two full days of squeezing everything you think you can't do without for 3 months into the car and camper trailer. You seriously consider jumping on a plane and staying in hotels – then you think of breakfast out in the open under the gum trees, birdsong and the steam rising from the kettle for your cup of tea and you remember why you are doing it. To get away. To regenerate. To see our beautiful country up close. So you take a deep breath and keep packing, anticipating all the new experiences that are about to be discovered.
Left a chilly foggy Clare at 8.40am. It’s really happening!!! This is the first time we have travelled that we have left home in the afternoon (ok, so it was evening by the time we sorted out a few hiccups). We only travelled from Adelaide to Clare so we could spend a night with Pete’s mum and dad first. Our last home cooked meal and warm bed with inside bathroom for 3 months!!
Stopped at port augusta to top up the long range fuel tanks and a few adjustments to the stone stomper to stop it overheating on the exhaust and finally turned North. Had to take the obligatory selfy next to the sign post – much to Pete’s embarrassment as all the cars and campers zipped past. So I’m a scrapbooker - he’s gonna have to get used to it!!! Funny how taking a photo with the digital SLR is OK, but using the selfy stick I was given for christmas is just waaaay too embarrassing. ??. Thank you Gemma! And thank you Philippa for selling me your iPad so I can write my travel blog. Xx
The trip to Coober Pedy was beautiful. Lots of greenery due to recent rains. Then we were treated with a large rain front moving in from the west. The cloud formations were stunning, with 360 degrees of uninterrupted sky to view them. We dodged showers (almost) to pull over and make a late lunch at Glendambo. We found our free camping spot at Hutchison’s Memorial just 13km south of Coober Pedy just after sunset with a few minutes till it got dark. Great spot down off the road, there would have been at least 20 other rigs there, but lots of space so we drove past the others and found a quiet spot for snorers towards the back. Windy through!!!!! The wind guard pete had made for the gas cooker made cooking our hamburgers for dinner possible!
We huddled inside the kamper for dinner and tried to sort out some IT issues with Telstra with little success. Didn’t think to put on the diesel heater – maybe our brains were too cold but I can tell you we will use it tonight! When we got up the next morning at 7.30am it was still only 3 degrees!!!!
Friday 22nd May
Filled up with fuel in Coober Pedy then hit the road by 9.30 (we’re already getting used to slower starts).Alice Springs for tonight.
We arrived in Alice about 6pm and set up at G’day Mate caravan park. We stayed here before and they are very friendly and helpful, park is very clean. Enjoyed the long hot shower as only those can who have been more than a day without one!! Peter’s cousin Pauline and her husband Klaus picked us up at 7.30 for dinner at the Gillen sporting club where Pauline and her son Brian work. Yummy dinner of chicken and mushroom wrapped in filo pastry with salad bar as well. Pauline and I enjoyed some South Australian wine –had a much better sleep last night! Was great catching up.
Spent the morning in town getting a few groceries and bits n pieces, then back to the park to hitch up the kamper which the park manager were happy for us to leave there til lunch time. THEN we had a lovely chat with a guy in the park and he and pete had a discussion about where we are going and what damage might occur to the CB aerial so then it was a trip to ARB for a spare aerial then to Bunnings for a solder kit (which probably should have been on the packing list anyway – pretty handy little things. I put the time to good use waiting as I set up my telstra account (the lass in the telstra shop was so much more helpful than the ones on the phone). Then I set up the mobi eye-fi for the camera to transfer the photos by wifi to the iPad. Feeling accomplished!! These were both jobs I had on the list to do before we left home but I ran out of time.
So later start than we planned (but that seems to be the norm already!). Hoping to make devils marbles campground tonight. As we got closer we nearly didn't keep going, our GPS was telling us we would arrive at 6pm, right on sunset (bit after actually) and wiki camps was saying if you didn’t get a sport by 3pm it would be full. Still we took a chance and lo and behold there was 1 spot left!!!!! Tight fit but our new neighbours weren’t fussed about the extra company. Campsite was $3.30 per person, with several longdrops (no they weren’t nice and clean but still beats squatting in the bush – particularly as there was spear grass and spinifex!
I was so relieved and happy we had found a spot in such a beautiful area that I decided to celebrate with Sue’s deerstalker merlot and some of the celebrations chocolates from Marina. What was left of the sunset was stunning – amazing Peter Dobre skies as I like to call them – clouds whisping down behind the marbles and bright stars like you never get to see down south. It was even quite temperate – about 16 degrees so sitting outside was very pleasant ( with our jackets of course). No wind – wonderful!
Saturday 23rd May
If you know me you know I love a good sleep in, but I just knew it was going to be worth getting up for the sunrise and I wasn’t disappointed! We trekked out through the spinifex to get a shot of the rocks without all the RV’s, found the spot to see some photo bombers – one with a bright red top – standing right in front of the rocks! They had come to see the sunrise, but without any clouds in the skies the idiots didn’t realise they would be better to turn around and see the light show on the rocks – some people have no brains, like the ones taking photos of the sunrise with their flash turned on!!!! Its one of my pet hates – all they get is an overexposed grainy shot and their flash upsets my shots! Ok. Off my soapbox.
So I was in seventh heaven traipsing around the spinifex then came back to camp to get some shots with the RV’s and then on to the other marbles closer to the road. Just beautiful and the colours have to be seen to be believed.
Back to the kamper for breakfast which was a bit uncomfortable – the wind had come up and altho it was about 13 degrees I think the wind chill factor took it down to zero!! Leisurely pack up and lengthy chats with other campers and we were on our way by 10. Short day today only 350km to west of Elliott to Longreach waterhole.
Finding Longreach was a bit problematic. Camps 7 said to turn at the stockyard and dip sign which we did, only to drive the expected 11km to not find the waterhole, plus we were travelling along what seemed private property next to a fence line. We were heartened by the sign of other tracks, it was very sandy but the Prado and KK managed it easily. At the end of 11km there was some waters, but not the waterhole we were looking for so we backtracked into town, during which time I consulted Wikicamps. Oops – a few comments down (under all the raves about what a wonderful spot it was) was an instruction to NOT to turn at the first sign but a bit later there had been a dedicated Longreach Waterhole sign erected. THIS time we knew we were on the right track when we overtook another RV on the dirt road.
Yes! By the time we arrived it was obvious we had found the right place. The waterhole is huge, and already there were 20 or so rigs spaced outs along the banks of the waterhole. Pete commented it looked more like the River Murray than a waterhole. We spent the afternoon quietly, me finishing a good book and sorting out our music on the iPod (a job I never got to finish before we left home) and Pete setting up the new aerial. Kangaroos grazed on the other side, Kites and Pelicans and ducks were in abundance. We even discovered a disgusting Cane Toad after dark while we were cooking dinner. The night was balmy with a gentle breeze, about 19 degrees but the midges were disgusting little dive bombers! Unexpected extra protein in the dinner I suspect!!
Sunday 24th May
Beautiful waking up on the banks of the waterhole. So much warmer – 18 to 20 degrees when we surfaced at 7.30.
Headed north to Katherine, with a stop for some memorabilia shots for my sister Terri who was stationed at Dunmurra 30 years ago, driving a 30 tonne roller with her first husband when the bitumen was first laid. Looks like it could do with s redo! Not far up the road we had to revisit Daly Waters Pub – not that different from 18.5 years ago but the outside has been done up a bit. Wonderful local character who had a chat with us while we had a drink. He was ex-army but had done a lot of stints with the airforce so he and Pete talked aeroplanes and squadrons for a while. For any of you who haven’t visited the pub it’s a must-see with so much memorabilia and clothing (bras and jocks and sporting t-shirts) and money (the real deal) pinned up all over the pub.
Onwards to Katherine, our home for 2 years, 18 ½ years ago!! We had to use the GPS to find our old home as the streets have all changed. The kids old primary school is now a a college. Booked into Shady Lane caravan park,a with good reviews on wikicamps. The newest and most modern ablution block I have ever seen in a caravan park – more like a motel! Lovely shady spots and pool. Will have to stop this way on the way home to really check out the town a bit more. 32 degrees here today – looks like we will have to get used to it!!
Now to see if I can upload this blog before we move on tomorrow over the WA border to Kununurra

------------------ (update)

Monday 25th May
This was the first time we had ever travelled west of Katherine past the Binjari Aboriginal settlement (20 min West of Katherine) where I worked for 12 months when we lived in Katherine. The country to the west is more hilly, with plateaus and a bit more up and down.

We stopped at Victoria River for a break, lunch and an ice-cream. Had a chat to a Chappy filling up with Diesel who was heading back to Katherine – he scored some capsicum, cucumber and tomatoes that we would have to ditch at the border – at least he would have the makings of a salad for dinner. We will have to make sure we take photos of the river on the way back again in a couple of months – its very impressive. Back on the roadand we got to swap drivers at Timber Creek. I get to drive, I get to choose music so out came the Dixie Chicks and Wide open spaces and when that album was finished it was the good ol’ Carpenter’s!! when I drive I love to sing, it helps me to keep awake. It’s a family thing from growing up in the country. My siblings and I used go sing faster and faster songs and mum would drive faster and faster – worked a treat til she caught us out!

Stopped at the border to get rid of the last of our fruit and veg (we made sure we didn’t have any honey or walnuts in shells as these also have to be surrendered at the border). Didn’t take long and we were back on the road. Came across a couple who had been pulled over by a roadwork gang who noticed their caravan door swinging open – they must have not latched it properly after the inspection at the border, and the door was all bent and the window smashed. Made me check our kitchen was all safely locked away when we stopped to make sure they were ok.

Finally arrived into Kununurra and booked into Kimberleyland Tourist Park – bit of a kitschy name but beautiful shady park on the shore of Lake Kununurra/Lily Creek Lagoon, brand new amenity blocks and 3 wonderful ladies who run the front office with great efficiency. Park staff are very friendly and helpful, giving advice and helping book tours, also booking ahead to Cable Beach Caravan Park for us. Fellow travellers, don’t believe it when they say you can’t book ahead to a caravan park in Broome, you can. Might be a problem later in the season but they were happy to take our booking. Although the proof of the pudding will come in a week’s time when we arrive there!

Tuesday 26th May
Last day of our first week! We have survived so far, although the tough bit is yet to come. Staying in a a beautiful caravan park is not too hard to take! Enjoying the 240V and internet and phone connection! Very civilised indeed! Decided to have a rest/camp day, slept in and fiddled about with internet and bookings and other things. Got very warm – up to 36 – as the day drew on. Should have gone for a swim but didn't think of it at the time.

Used the time to plan ahead with a couple of (big) tour bookings with the help of the girls from the caravan park office. We decided that if there were two things we should do while in the Kimberley, one of the was the horizontal falls off the coast of Derby ($795 EACH half day tour); and the other was a flight in the East Kimberley,a taking in Wyndham, Kununurra, Argyle Dam and Diamond Mine and the Bungle Bungle or Purnululu National Park ($445 each). As we said, we don’t plan to come back up this way again, and these are two experiences we can't enjoy from the ground, and are both very unique to this part of the world. We’ll just have to keep working a bit longer when we get back go pay for it! We did speak to a couple of fellow travellers who agreed that both were worth the investment. Then of course there was the chap who complained it was too costly – but we soon worked out that wasn’t the only thing he had to complain about! So we are doing the flight on Thursday – you will have to wait for my week 2 update to see how it went!

will be travelling to the Bungle Bungle / Purnululu National park on friday for 3 night then another night before we reach Broome on 2nd June, so we will be out of contact for a while!

Take me back to my home
To the spirit of the land that calls me
Colours and textures, light and birdsong
There I can breathe, and restore my soul
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