The one and only place to stay at Lake Argyle is the Lake Argyle Resort Caravan Park. There is no other option, but what a great option it is. We didn’t book ahead (like 95% of the places we stayed at on our trip) and it turned out to be a busy time so they found us a spot next to the owners house, and we hooked up to power from there. Super accommodating and also managed to get onto a cruise without any issues. Below is a picture of the resident bowerbird and his nest, which was just by where we parked our caravan. The park is a busy place with lots going on, including the heli-tours landing at the park, which was exciting and noisy for Esther to watch. We did some cane toad catching at night, which… I thought I was braver than I actually was, I could barely summon the courage to hold the large bin bag to put the cane toads in that Dan caught, I really didn’t like it when they jumped and moved whilst holding the bag. The Caravan Park also does great fish n chips, with fresh caught catfish.
For our last morning at the Lake we went out on a breakfast cruise, this included a tour of some of the lake, breakfast and a swim with the crocs! Yes, so there are freshwater crocodiles in the lake. I know they aren’t aggressive like saltwater crocs, but I still found it nerve racking. I had a short swim, staying close to other swimmers ha ha!
On the Corner of Great Northern and Victoria Hwy, just outside of Kununurra is another 24hr free camp. When we arrived there were only a few other campers, but it quickly filled up and continued to be a noisy stop. There was also no running water for the dump point so keep that in mind if you are looking to empty out the cassette. Esther enjoyed a little outdoor bath, we picked it up at the op shop in Broome, she loves it, it saves on water, and emptying it helps flush the waste when trying to empty the cassette at the dry dump point!!
We stayed in Kununurra for a good week. Exploring some of the local sites, getting a heap of cooking and shopping done as well as taking the plunge and taking Esther’s beloved dummy off her to see if that would improve her sleeping at night. It took the longest 25 mins for her to go to sleep the first night without it, constantly patting her, but after night 2 it seemed she didn’t miss it. We stayed at the Kimberleyland Waterfront Holiday Park, it was great. They had a movie night on the lakeshore, live music. We had a great time. We got a kit from Toadbusters to help eliminate some of the pesky cane toads. Dan found more information about the Beebe’s of the Northern Territory when he found something in the museum which had been donated by them. We also had a local Aboriginal man carve a boab tree onto a boab nut for us which we have on our bookshelf at home now. We tried fishing at Ivanhoe Crossing, resulting in a few snagged lines. A day trip out to Molly Springs waterhole which was very secluded and a refreshing dip, as well as a trip out to El Questro.
El QuestroWilderness Park
On the drive into El Questro we saw a couple riding their bikes. We stopped and said hello when we realised who they were. Back track 13 days prior, we had been driving back to Derby along the Gibb River Road after a day trip out to the gorges when we saw a couple riding their bicycles, in the dust and top end heat. We had plenty of cold water in our car freezer so we pulled over and offered them a bottle of icy water. They gratefully accepted and told us they were riding the whole way along the Gibb River Road, after some more pleasantries we left them to continue! So although a bit slimmer than when we last saw them they had all but completed their journey when we saw them heading out of El Questro, what a feat.
El Questro Station is approximately 83 km West of Kununurra, approx 25km from the East end of the Gibb River Road. It was so green and lush, the horses kicked up a dust storm and made for beautiful photo’s with the sun streaming through.
We had dinner at the swinging arms, one of the restaurants there, watched cane toads hop across the grass and enjoyed the live music, it was an awesome atmosphere.
Mirima National Park
On our way East we stopped at this national park. It has a beautiful wildflower walk through the park, with views from the top over the town of Kununurra.
We wanted to see the Bungle Bungles so we headed for Spring Creek Rest Area after leaving Halls Creek. It currently says it’s a 24 hour rest stop but I’m sure it was longer when we stayed. There were campers who’d been there for a week or so. We had heard it was a great place to leave the caravan and drive in to the national park, a safe place where others would be during the day to keep an eye out. There are two camping areas, one is sealed and open air, the other unsealed and shady down by the river, it is a great spot with toilets and dump points.
We noticed that the van we had parked next to had a car parked outside yet there had been no movement in or around the van since we had arrived late afternoon. We speculated whether anything untoward had happened to the owner. Later that night we heard them returning, finding out that the coach they had taken into the park had broke an axle on the track and they had to wait for another coach to come back and get them.
It was a beautiful clear night and we were in the absolute middle of nowhere so I decided to give some night photography ago, experimenting with the settings on my camera.
The next morning we headed into the national park with a packed lunch. Oh what a drive! It is 60km from the highway into the park, on a super windy undulating road. It took us well over an hour to get in, no wonder the coach broke an axle.
When we left I had to drive back out as I needed the distraction from being a passenger thrown around. Other than that it was a beautiful day, trekking around, lots to see and paths to walk, with the amazing rock formations.
Another highlight of the ranges is a hike through Echidna Chasm, it is said that at midday when the sun comes overhead, sunlight streams down the walls of the chasm, causing them to glow a beautiful orange colour. Unfortunately the time of day and where we were located we didn’t do this walk, but would love to do it next time… when we take a helicopter flight in!
It was hard to leave Broome, we had become quite cosy there and accustomed to the beautiful weather and surrounds, the chilled out pace and the time we were having together as a family. After finally leaving Broome… we headed to Derby to explore some of the sites on the Gibb River Road. Even though our caravan was “semi-off road” we weren’t keen to take it off road, so we parked up in Derby and took a day trip to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. (June 2017)
Tunnel Creek (Dimalurru), King Leopold Ranges
We found Derby to be a clean little town with ageing infrastructure, once the hub of the Kimberley until Broome established the Regional Hospital. At night the salt flats (opposite the caravan park) attracted the local hoons. In all our travels around Australia this was the first time we were kicked out of a caravan park at 10:00am, without any wriggle room. The owner came around on his bicycle at 09:00 reminding us of this!
Geike Gorge – out of Fitzroy Crossing
Do you like hiking in soft sand? This is what I remember about this walk, the pain of walking across soft sand, my least favourite thing to do. There is also a track but it begins after the soft sand ha ha. Lots of wildflowers and birds on the walk too.
Larrawa Station Nature Stay & Laarri Gallery
Larrawa Nature stay and Bush Camp is between Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek, it was the perfect overnight stay, from memory about $10 pp/pn. They have flushing toilets and hot showers, bush style. Dan will always take the opportunity to make use of available facilities and convinced me to have a shower there. It was so good, it felt like I was having a hot bush shower, with the corrugated iron shelter starting a foot off the ground and partially uncovered to the sky it was really refreshing in more ways than one. Super clean and peaceful. There is a small walk to a lake, which I took with Esther at dusk. We made custard and facetimed family on the phone.
The next morning we saw a sign to an art gallery so decided to pull off, caravan in tow to check it out. It was a 5km unsealed road into what turned out to be a community and school with an art gallery at the back. It was awesome… although we found some leftover custard dripping out of the fridge and across the floor of the caravan, turns out glad wrap isn’t sufficient to keep custard in when falling horizontal in the fridge while driving on an unsealed road.
We bought a beautiful piece of Art from the gallery which we now have framed in our home.
Halls Creek & Wolf Creek Crater
We arrived into Halls Creek late afternoon so we found this free camp called Caroline Pool just out of town to stay at before heading into town the next morning, parking up and making the long drive out to Wolf Creek Crater.
Wolfe Creek Crater
What a drive! 150km from Halls Creek on the unsealed corrugated Tanami Road. Looking back I don’t know how we managed so much driving with a youngen. We remember passing backpackers on the road in a Preggio Van, we wondered if they would make it but sure enough as we were leaving they arrived.
This was a bucket list item, which is now ticked so not sure we would go again. The landscape is amazing and as you can see below the meteorite definitely left it’s mark. There were beautiful wildflowers, large eagles eating dead sheep on the side of the road, broken down cars and even a dead caravan!
After a full on 4WD on the Cape Leveque track, snapping our aeriel off at the base over the corrigations we turned off to the Gnylmarung campsite. This was the beginning of the rest of our trip around Oz. I had just finished my hospital prac and a bit of remote camping was just what I needed to relax. There’s really only so much you can do while camping and I find it helps me to switch off. Going back to basics with minimal meal prep and facilities, nil technology or mobile reception, no power so ablution blocks were lit by a truck battery on a solar panel, fresh caught fish, new snorkel mask bitten by coral trout freshly caught and landing in the boat, the boys almost walking on water when 3 sharks became aggressive after the coral trout was speared, campfires and tents… but nothing prepared us for our first night in our “2-man” hiking tent in the heat. It barely fit our double mattress, Esther had to sleep with us, we had to try not to touch each other to stay cool and be mindful of not squashing the child. I think we were awake most of the night. We were ever so grateful that our friends offered us their tent for the rest of our trip up the cape while they returned back to Broome. They had brought their trailer up and even had a camp kitchen set up!
Check out the size of the tent compared to Dan.. and our awesome tray set up 🙂
Kooljaman Campground @Cape Leveque – Northernmost tip of the Dampier Peninsular.
Meeting Ken Duncan OAM – Australian Landscape Photographer.
Being at the cape meant we could take sunset and sunrise photo’s, sunrise was early and I had put off sneaking out of the tent before the little one woke up to take some sunrise photo’s until the last morning. I took my camera and camera bag and stumbled out. It was beautiful and I have tried to capture that below. There were a few other people on the beach doing the same, although they had definitely risen earlier than I!!!
I am very much an amatuer photographer but would love to develop the skill, from memory I had a couple of questions on my mind regarding night photography and manual mode when I noticed someone also taking photo’s with the same cameras as me. I stopped and asked them my question, they then pointed me to a man coming up from the beach and suggested that he would be the best person to ask. This man was friendly and took my camera to have a look and answer my question… when he couldn’t turn it on, the battery had died. So I reached for my spare battery in my camera bag, only to realise my spare battery was in the nappy bag as that bag went everywhere. So no more assistance there with the camera and my question. I expressed how I would love to do a TAFE photography course and learn more, he proposed I only needed to do one course that would teach me everything I needed to know, to go to http://www.kenduncan.com and I would find the course there.
I asked him if he was Ken Duncan, he said yes. I thanked him for his time and he left.
There I was on a remote beach, alongside Ken Duncan, Australia’s most awarded Landscape Photographer, with an opportunity for a mini one on one lesson with camera in hand and the battery was dead. *face palm moment for sure.
Sacred Heart at Beagle Bay aka ‘Mother of Pearl Church’ – est. 1918
Banana Well Getaway – Dampier Peninsular
A perfect halfway stop driving back to Broome from the Cape. We loved the friendly feel of the place, the animals roaming and the sound of the donkey’s somewhere in the distance. Farmer Dan was right at home. I’ve seen peacocks before, but I don’t remember noticing how beautiful the female Peahen’s chest was. The green was so vibrant I had to take a photo! We again stayed in a tent here, went for a drive out to the Beagle Bay Creek, which is huge and has a significant change between the height of the tides as seen in the pictures below. The fear of crocodiles was real and I was on the lookout for any movement in the water, as well as keeping my distance from the edge. The creek is a popular fishing spot, but with stern warnings about cleaning fish near the water and ensuring you remove any waste!
It had been almost 2 years since we returned home from our big lap around Australia when a window of opportunity presented itself to travel, we bought a van with bunks for our now 2 children, packed up and left for the only state we didn’t visit… Tasmania (Tassie!). After falling pregnant with our second child (another beautiful girl, Leah) on our last trip we opted to skip Tassie for a later date.. and now we are here! It felt like it was so much harder to physically pack up and leave the house this time, with 2 children unpacking behind me as I packed and prepared the house for house-sitters. We have not only been blessed with another child but we moved to a 12 acre property with a big garden, chickens and a rooster to look after. So with perfect timing a high-school friends parents returning from Tassie will stay there and love our pets and house for us.
Smoky Bay, SA
On our way home last time we stayed in Streaky Bay, so we thought we would try Smoky Bay. We locked in 3 nights. Got some washing done, relaxed a bit with walks on the beach, bike rides on the jetty, sifting through shells under the little beach shades and some crabbing. We would definitely visit again.
Aka Broome-town, is a tourist town, known for its white sandy 22.5 km (14mile) cable beach. This destination was three-fold for us, I had a 4 week clinical placement at Broome Hospital as part of completing my nursing degree, we have family friends living in town and what better place to be between May and June in WA. We stayed in Broome for just over 8 weeks, it is a place hard to leave and many don’t. If it wasn’t for the rest of our travels that lay ahead we might have stayed too. The pace is slower, most services and facilities are all under a 5 min drive and then there is the magic of the Kimberley Region to discover on your doorstep. Dan loved going out fishing with his mate Bryon, being stay at home dad while I was on placement and bringing 8 month old Esther for Breastfeeds and cuddle on breaks! We all went to the outdoor cinema “Sun Pictures” in town. Even had a plane fly over while we were sitting there and baby girl Esther falling asleep… finally… in my arms was so sweet. Dreaming of buying some gold pearl stud earrings one day whilst touring all the pearl jewellery stores, Broome still harvests Pearls today. Last time we were there we went out to Willie Creek, and the Mango farm, this time we headed up to Cape Leveque, which will be a whole new blog post.
Discovering Cable Beach…
Cable Beach @ Sunset…
Coconut Wells Lagoon
I heard about coconut wells from a nurse I was working with, but it was hard to find directions on google. So I tagged along with some family friends, our first visit was at high tide, unable to see the rock pools only the pinnacles exposed just above the water, our second visit we went at low tide and we were able to see all the rock pools.
Staircase to the moon…
A natural phenomenon that occurs between March and October in Western Australia’s North West. The recipe, a full moon and a low tide. In Broome it can be seen over Roebuck Bay. There are photo’s and paintings all over Broome and at the Courthouse markets (a must-do… crepes and lemonade stand are the best) to see it oneself was amazing. Think beautiful balmy evening, hundreds of people, finding a parking space, standing on a bin to see the sunset and get a shaky photo and that is your image below! Then slowly watching the “staircase” disappear as the moon continues to rise. I personally think it looks more like a sunset than a moon-rise!
Fishing on the Fitzroy River…
Crocodile country, crocodile country, crocodile country! Just look at that water… what is lurking beneath? Other than crocodiles, turns out a saw fish. We headed out for a day trip to the Fitzroy River, just off the Great Northern Highway. I stayed right away from the shore, unless someone else was standing in front of me. We heard the rule was 3m from the shore should keep you safe from crocs lunging out of the water. It was made easier with Esther not even crawling at her young age. So we didn’t have to worry about her near the water. No Barramundi on the line for us though that night.
For those travelling with kids, we found a plug in the shower worked great, we later found a collapsible baby bath at a Broome op shop which we put in the bottom of the shower also worked great too, using less water.
Western Australia’s second largest National Park, filled with beautiful gorges carved out of red rock. We headed to the Eastern side of the park, near Dales gorge and Fortescue falls. A fire had passed through the summer before we arrived (December 2016) and it was burnt out. Photos below show little foliage which meant little respite from the hot sun in the day. Dan recalls us using the generator so I could cook a chickpea curry in the thermomix, one of only two times we actually used the generator, we could’ve made other dinner arrangements.
We had a short stop in Port Hedland, refuelling the fridge and the car. We struggled to find any green grass at the caravan park, but we did find a really nice cafe/restaurant for dinner, where the service provided was so above standard we went out of our way to leave a facebook review! We spent the day perusing the town, walking along the foreshore, visiting the art gallery and South Headland library.
The drive into Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park is a long gravel road, which we took nice and slowly, limiting the trail of dust we left behind. As we reached the caravan park there was a caravan high on the hill advertising for sale, we came over the hill and along with views of the beach was a beautiful green grassed caravan park. After parking the caravan we made friends with other residents, so fresh and excited to be on this adventure and with Esther on board, it was easy to connect… her cuteness even scored us a freshly caught and filleted threadfin salmon, as she won over the caretakers of the caravan park who we chatted to on the beach. Esthers’ first experience eating fish… fresh as fresh could be. She loved it and still does. Spoilt!
It has now been almost 12 months since we left. I would love to finish the blog before we get back, but I have also picked up 2 units at uni and uni should probably be prioritised over the other…
We left Perth on 21st April, 2017. It was a busy time after welcoming our Esther only 7 months prior, packing and renting the house out, preparing the caravan, tying up loose ends at work, as well as catching up with friends and family one last time before we left, including this farewell, what an awesome cake (thanks Tamara). Although we still have a few more things to see on the map next time, (Yes, we plan to return to the road to see Tasmania and South Australia sometime after the next baby arrives).
We have definitely seen crocs, drove past the big pineapple at least 30 times while Dan was working on the sunshine coast (although never got a photo). We saw the big banana in Coffs Harbour, but while towing a caravan didn’t stop for a photo. We saw Dolphins in Byron Bay and Dan just recently saw a penguin washed up on the beach in Apollo Bay, (does that count?). We plan to visit Ayers rock next time and hopefully we’ll catch the whales migrating in the Bight.
Our set up:
New Age Oz Classic, with a very luxurious ensuite and our Ford Ranger.
Our very first night on the road, Seven Mile Beach:
It felt pretty amazing to leave town. It may have taken a few extra hours than planned to pull out of the driveway but we did it. This was a dream of Dan’s for almost 20 years and after much debate we decided on a caravan over a camper or pop top. We looked at caravans on Gumtree for at least 3 years, before we bought one and then needed a car capable of towing it. Dan liked the Ford Ranger and we couldn’t afford a landcruiser 200 series. I found one (an XLT) on Gumtree that had low kilometers and all the accessories Dan wanted already fitted (UHF, Suspension upgrade, long range tank, bullbar, spotlights and trailer brakes).
I researched every port-a-cot available trying to find one that would fit into the gap between the couches, only to convert a couch into her bed a few days before we left. We still took the port-a-cot and it has been well used for camping, playing and visiting any friends or family along the way.
So when we pulled into this free campsite just south of Geraldton, using WikiCamps for the first time it was quite the feeling. It was even Romantic! Living the dream! There were only 3 other vans at the site with front row parking still available. We weren’t sure what the etiquette was but took the risk and parked up. Perfect views.
It was so nice. We had many lessons ahead of us, including one we learned the next morning. We left the fridge running in the boot of the car and it drained the car battery, So we needed a jump start. From then on (until we got solar on the car and a dual battery system) we kept the fridge in the caravan when we were parked up.
Esther trying Black Sapote for the first time after we visited a store front with fresh local fruit for sale.
We were impressed with Tom Price, so much greener than we thought, the town was clean and there seemed to be lots of young families. We met a few couples at the caravan park who were headed in the same direction (clockwise) and we have seen 3 of them since, some in Cape York, another in the Northern Territory and just recently another couple in Canberra, it has been great to catch up and share stories as well as get further recommendations on places to visit.