Gunbarrel Hwy Day 1 - Hillarys to Mt Magnet

Friday, Jun 22, 2001 at 00:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

This is a 51-day personal trip diary of the recent ExplorOz field research trip. On this journey we have done a number of things - including road testing new equipment/accessories along with recording GPS track files and new track information for adding to the Trek Notes on This has also been a our first trip with a baby, who was just 8-9mths old and crawling. From these experiences, we will add new content in Trip Preparation regarding travelling with babies.

So sit back, and enjoy your armchair travels from Perth - Alice Springs (via the Gunbarrell Hwy) then up the Tanami Track to Halls Creek, further north to Wyndham and then along the Gibb River and Kalumburu Roads into Mitchell Falls and Kalumburu and then further west to Broome before tracking south through the East Pilbara back towards Perth.

Day 1 - Friday 22/6/01
Start - Hillarys, Perth 8am
Stop - Mt Magnet - 4.30pm
Trip Odometer - 568.2km
Stopped time - 1.09 hrs
Moving average - 91.4km
Moving time - 6.13 hrs
Max speed - 115.3km/hr

Heading out of Perth today was a major relief – after months of vehicle preparation (yet again) and some hiccups that delayed our departure by 3 days, we were craving the “leave it all behind” aspect of departing on a long trip.

Probably the most difficult and frustrating part of our trip preparation has been the equipment supply from manufacturers and advertisers. Although we have spent the last 12mths carefully selecting our choice of equipment, the whole process of negotiating with suppliers and coordinating delivery, installation and associated promotion has been painstakingly slow and laborious.

In the end, some critical items were not received in time for installation more than 1 week before our departure. So, this 8 week trip will be our first real test-run with this vehicle set-up! Not exactly what we’d planned, but the formula is much the same with each vehicle and we’ve done this more than a few times now. Does it get better each time? Not necessarily – there’s no real “right” set-up that can account for individual differences and preferences and even the same people will enjoy using a different set-up just to experience a different way of “living”.

Our lunch stop today in Dalwallinu on the Great Northern Highway was our first opportunity to put the food and utensil storage to the test. The “Roller Drawers” came up a winner! Two days before we left home, I realised I needed a way to make access to the gear in the drawers easier so I had David build 3 wooden boxes from 3ply with cut-outs for handles. We have the utensils and condiments in the front drawer with a few days worth of tins, packets and lunch items in the 2nd drawer and the 3rd drawer, which needs to be slid forward to access, is tightly packed with Tupperware “Modular Mates” with flour, sugar, rice, couscous, dried soup mix, various dried fruits, baby cereal etc. For the two of us and our baby, we have all our foodstuffs and utensils in one drawer, with long-term food storage in one large fisherman’s tub stacked on top. This contains tins, UHT milk, juices, packets, nappies etc as stores to reduce cost and to increase bush camping range. The second roller drawer contains all the recovery gear and tools – and is very heavy!

We had planned to stop overnight in Paynes Find, although I’d never heard of it – but had read it as a stopover on someone else's website – bad move! I can now advise 2 options for bush camps - 24km south of Paynes Find is a really great bush camp site with toilets, bins, water etc. Paynes Find is 144km south of Mt Magnet where there is a great little caravan park or you can continue another 8km north to another great bush camp called “The Granites” – beautiful views. It is well signposted on the RHS – we’ll stop there on the way back home. Taking the needs of a little baby into consideration has altered our habitual methods of travelling and camping and being our first day we opted for the caravan park. With an overnight temperature of just 6 degrees I was keen to get her into a warm bath after crawling around in the dust at our lunch and various stops. Just for comparison sake, I’ll take note here that we payed $8.80 for our unpowered campsite – on lush grass. We were quite impressed with our ability to set-up camp in just 30 minutes and had chicken burritos for dinner, washed up, put Leah to bed and all ready for bed by 8pm.

It was a very cold night after quite a warm day. It had been quite a scenic drive, quite similar to NT with rocky outcrops, ranges and plains of scrub. Saw lots of goats, roos, emus, feral cats once we crossed over the vermin proof fence/grid. There are also plenty of farm stay accommodation at homesteads along the way that we could look into for advertising on EO. Most of the area is heavily mined, mostly gold. Had to dress Leah in 2 layers – a warm fluffy coverall suit plus her polar fleece sleeping bag with a blanket over the top and another cotton blanket hung over the mesh side of the portable cot to block out the cold draft.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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