Karijini National Park & Eighty Mile Beach, WA.

Karijini National Park: April 2017

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.

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Free foot exfoliation from the little fish for Esther.
Esther and I waited in the shade while Dan did the Spider Walk on the way to Kermits Pool. It was warm, so I stripped Esther off and we waded in the water. It was so refreshing. Although there were a few awkward moments when the passers by realised she was naked.. meh, she’s a baby!
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Dan prior to the Spider Walk.
Fig trees bursting out of gorge rock.

Port Hedland:

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.

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This is a random selfie we took one night in Port Headland. I’ve put it in as I love seeing the inside of others vans and how they lived. Dan is sitting on Esther’s Bed. I’m sitting on the edge of the cafe lounge as we have the cushions resting on the couch. The Chaos. We started off setting up and packing away her bed, it didn’t last long, it stayed set up most of the time and given it was enclosed like a cot, it became a great place to store anything that might roll around on the move.

Eighty Mile:

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!

5 mins after we got out we watched a shovel-nose shark swim by.
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The trip to the tip… Cape York, QLD.

Our route:

Daintree (via CREB Track) to Lakeland – Coen – Bamaga (Umagico 4 Nights) – South Side of Sam Creek (via Old Telegraph Track) – Elliot Falls Campground – Weipa – Chuulangun Campground – Hann Crossing (National Park) – Endeavour Falls Tourist Park – Daintree via Cooktown and the Bloomfield Track.

I had no idea that the Cape York trip was a thing, being from the West Coast. Turns out some people plan this adventure down to a T, years in advance. In true Dan & Felicia style we got ourselves a good map & guide in Cairns and asked lots of questions. Although our car was already set up for camping after our trip to Cape Leveque, we’d made a few improvements to our “rig” along the way, a solar panel on the roof with dual batteries to keep the Waeco going without draining the car battery, upgraded our 2 man tiny tent to a 6 man tent and purchased a super croc spotting rechargeable spotlight.

As we have been traveling around, I have been contacting people that we know when we arrive in the state, I contacted my cousin (not knowing where he lived in QLD) when we arrived in Cairns, James kindly invited us to visit him in Airlie Beach, but not for a few weeks as they were headed on a camping trip to Cape York the following week… the very same week we were headed up there, we couldn’t have organised this if we tried, (that and I hadn’t had contact with them since they had come to dinner at my parents home 9 years prior). So we organised to meet up along the way and what a fantastic reunion it was. We have created a family friendship and Esther won the hearts of both Micah and Jazzy.

We met a few people when we got to the Daintree (we were able to store our caravan here for a small fee while we were away, great caravan park and friendly staff) and they had just come back from the ‘Tip’ via the CREB track, this has to be the best source of information, people who have up to date knowledge of the track, reassuring us it was dry and more than manageable, they also shared a book with us that a lady who each year detailed the tracks and campsites of the Cape York Region had written, which was invaluable along the way.

Traveling with an almost one year old means we drive as long as she let’s us. Our plan was to get to the top as quickly as we could as I wanted to make it there to celebrate our anniversary and Esther’s first birthday, so we took the development road up. The road was currently being graded and so much of it was smooth, it was a much easier drive than we anticipated. Although there was one section, turning off before heading to Weipa where some unpredicted “whoops” caused the car to get some serious air!

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First Photo of the trip.

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Inspecting the track ;p

After a long day of driving we try to let Esther stretch her legs and “crawl around.” The caravan park we stayed at was quiet and without many people so she was able to roam around and get filthy. While we were setting up camp a couple of backpackers brought back some fresh watermelon from the farm. It was juicy, just ask Esther.

The happy photo’s stopped after this as we entered ‘Our hilariously memorable first night…’

  • It was windy and the tent literally picked up and blew a couple of meters away while we were trying to put it up
  • The pegs wouldn’t hammer into the ground, it was full of rocks, Dan managed to even bend heavy duty tent pegs.
  • We went to use the lantern and it was broken, likely from the bumps while 4WDing.
  • We were given a large plastic box from reception to bath Esther in that was broken, but Dan didn’t know, so when he went to bath Esther he saw it and thought it was something we had done and would need to replace.
  • We inflated our mattress, then when we put Esther to bed noticed it was flat. (Again likely having occurred from rubbing whilst being folded in the drawer of the car).  No one likes a hole in their mattress while camping 😦 Lucky I’m married to Macgyver (or someone who is determined not to sleep on the floor after a long days driving) Dan cut a piece of material from our jumper lead storage bag and super-glued it over the hole and it worked!
  • By this point… do you think we have a happy Dan?
  • Then we went to use a fan with a light and the battery was dead, likely having turned itself on whilst traveling and run flat.
  • The gas cooker kept blowing out in the wind.
  • Part of dinner fell on the floor (sauteed mushrooms).

I was in fits of laughter as by this point you laugh or cry!

Then in the morning…

  • The car wouldn’t start as we had drained the dying battery opening and shutting doors for hours.
  • and we found a hole in our new sink when we went to do the dishes.

 

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Check out the stark contrast, brown dusty trees on the left and green on the right.

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Ferry crossing at the Jardine River.

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Our beachside camp @ Umagico, Bamaga.

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Makeshift camp kitchen/laundry (too hot to have afternoon naps in the tent).

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Finally asleep…

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Fresh Coconuts!!!! Best Anniversary present! Hand picked!

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Seisia Beach

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The locals (Thursday Islanders) reassured us that on Fridays it’s safe to swim as the crocs don’t come here to the jetty.

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Fishing at the jetty…

Happy 1st Birthday Esther & Happy 4th Wedding Anniversary to us.

Celebrated at Punsand Bay, Cape York.

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Our beautiful birthday girl.

Visiting the most Northern Tip of Australia:

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Our Beach @ Umagico:

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This is a picture perfect location. Warm weather, beautiful beaches and beachside camping, but no swimming = torture. When we arrived we thought every exposed rock was a crocodile. But when we went out at night with our torches we had more than one sighting of two blinking red eyes staring back at us.

There were quite a few stray dogs around, one placid dog took quite a liking to us and became protective of Esther. Poor dog must have had litters and litters of pups and was pretty worn. She got the nick name “butter” after a new 500g block of butter went missing off the table and later discovered she’d eaten all of it! All of this was great until we discovered she was covered in ticks and fleas. We noticed one day when she got up from laying down and they were crawling all over the floor.

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DC3 Aircraft from WWII Ruins:

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The Old Telegraph Track:

As mentioned before we took the Development Road up to Cape York and decided to take the Old telegraph Track South entering via Mistake Creek. The creeks were so clear and beautiful, all worth swimming in, or bathing in for that matter. We camped overnight at Canal Creek, after watching a car towing a camper trailer reverse its way down around, through and across the creek!

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It was a bit drizzly which is never fun with a tent, but we managed to stay dry and capture these special moments…

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Early morning swim.

Eliot Falls:

When no one else is around you have to go in and check the depth yourself! (Scrubby Creek Crossing)

 

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Twin Falls:

There is a national park run campsite here which requires pre-booking and you are allocated sites. James & Liz were due to meet us here and they never arrived, with no reception we just hoped they were ok! We later found out they were camping at Canal Creek, not far. They had towed their camper trailer through the same tracks and crossings we had from Mistake creek! Including Scrubby creek, but I’ll let them tell that tale.

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From here we continued south on the OTT, bypassing Gunshot crossing, we were cruising to Bramwell Junction, starving, sick of the corrugations and with a tired hungry baby when we arrived at our last crossing (everyone else’s first) Palm Creek Crossing. A dry creek crossing with a steep decent, my nerves were on edge watching Dan descend.  Wheels in the air everywhere! The car seemed to rock like a matchbox toy. But he safely got our trusty rig down. (Unbeknown’s to us there was an alternate crossing).

Whilst I was helping guide Dan down from the bottom of the creek a gentleman was recording the saga. He had come in from the Junction to have a look at people tackling this crossing. (Which no one was, they were all going the “chicken track”). I must add though when we were leaving some people were looking at heading South-North on the track and crossing where we didn’t have success. Not sure what they did in the end. The thing is, the track changes day to day, depending on weather and on how many people cross it and make changes to the track, placing logs, rocks or how the car churns it up.

So then we had a look at our “out” our very last challenge on this track, standing between us and food and a rest and relief. Half way up the exit was a huge step up. 2 foot vertical step up of hard polished clay. This was most people’s entry, turns out it would have been easier to follow the typical South-North and returned on the development road.

So said gentleman advised us that most people seem to take the alternate route. “WHAT ALTERNATE ROUTE??? WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL US BEFORE WE GOT OUR CAR STUCK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CROSSING???”

In the end a kind soul winched us out the way we came in and we took the alternate crossing and drove into Bramwell junction. Got fuel, icecream, chips and drove our hearts out to Weipa where we left the tent in the car and stayed in a Donga (2 single beds!!) for the night. Best $70 we’ve ever spent.

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Weipa:

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Weipa @ Sunset

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Our Family Set up. Right next to the bins!!

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Catching up with a beautiful family we met at Cape Leveque 4 months earlier.

Chuulangan Aboriginal Corporation Campground:

This was a gem of a find. We were the only one’s there. A friendly ranger gave us some tips for catching cherabin. Also how to use the donkey water heater for hot showers. It was such a nice spot. With a safe place for the kids to wade in the water.

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Trying to find some gold…

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Lunch stop at the dried up Wenlock River crossing.

Camping at Hann River:

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Banks of the Hann River

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Bushman Dan teaching the kids how to make spears:

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100 Year old Mango Trees- filled with mango’s if you look closely.

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Isabella Falls Ford:

Endeavour Falls Caravan Park:

Cooktown:

The colour of the sand and the water are as you see it, blue as blue. Hot golden sand. Warm sun, everything you need to go swimming… but there’s crocs. *sigh*.

We stopped into Cooktown for lunch and a battery for the car. We said goodbye to our new found friends until Airlie Beach and I got my turn 4WD’ing as we returned to the Daintree on the Bloomfield track. I expected it to be a little more challenging, but a lot of the track was sealed, including the really steep parts, which you would struggle to tow anything up. You realise after the drive how much you were concentrating when your upper body is sore from holding tight to the steering wheel.  Driving through thick forest we had views of the stunning coast line with the occasional break in the trees.

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Cape Tribulation:

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A short stop at Cape Tribulation before taking the ferry across the Daintree River home to our caravan. Oh so nice to be in our bed after our time away.