After crossing the WA/NT border we headed south on Duncan road to visit the Zebra Rock Mine (according to the website they have now moved to Litchfield). The reddish-brown and white-banded sedimentary rock formation is composed of small particles of quartz and fine-grained white mica. It’s known as zebra stone or zebra rock.
The colour banding is suggested to be formed by the rhythmic precipitation of iron oxide rich bands during the alteration of the rock by fluids migrating through the rock.
Visiting the mine I saw a familiar face, which I initially couldn’t work out where I knew them from. We soon worked out we were colleagues back in Perth, but being out of context it took time to establish the connection. As other blog posts mention we caught up a few times on our journey’s east. After discussing many things “van related” we headed out to find a campsite each. We set ourselves up at Goorrandalng Campground for the night.
Goorrandalng campground is located 18km from the Keep River National Park entrance. Camping facilities are basic and generators are permitted until 8:30pm. The site is suitable for tents and caravans. Aboriginal sites, spectacular geology and many different habitats are some of the features in the Park.
SITE ACCESS Located 468 kilometres West from Katherine, it sits right on the Northern Territory’s border with Western Australia. The Park entrance is 3 km east of the NT/WA border.
We spent the night by the fire of another camper, listening to stories of his father who was a police officer during the time of the Azaria Chamberlain case. In the morning we went for a beautiful bush walk around the national park.
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 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.
A few months prior we sent off some resumes and emails introducing Dan to some Mower shops on the East coast offering a few weeks to a few months worth of work. We got a fantastic response and were now ready to pursue some of the leads. Unfortunately for us the shop owner in Mackay met and liked Daniel but wanted him to stay on until Feb, 2018. We wanted to be in Sydney for Christmas so that wasn’t going to work, we declined and continued to the next follow up. So in answer to people’s question is it easy to get work on the road? I think it is if you are flexible. If you have a shorter time frame, save some more money before you leave and don’t worry about working, or if time is not an issue you will have many options. Mackay was the last place we found coconut palms. Oh so sad!
Bundoora Dam: Free Camp
As I’ve said before, these free camps have such a different vibe to caravan parks, we love them but haven’t used them enough. We’re currently in Victoria typing this so if anyone has any suggestions for the rest of our trip home (back to Perth) please send them my way. No unhooking the van, so an easy pack up the next morning. Generally more remote so less reception and no power therefore choices for cooking/entertainment options are simplified. This was such a gem that I even commented on Wikicamps. We put our net in for red claw over night to no avail… but a lovely couple felt sorry for Dan and generously gave him some of theirs that they had collected out on their tinny in the middle of the lake. Maybe all this lack of catching is just an opportunity to appreciate everyone else’s generosity and remember that, when we finally catch something!
A place on Dan’s must see list. A place to channel the inner treasure hunter. I don’t have any photo’s of Emerald. hmm. We weren’t there long, Dan went out for the day to Sapphire and Ruby to fossick, he had no luck finding anything but he did find some cut sapphires at a great price that Tom has agreed to make into earrings. I managed to find my first playgroup walking distance from the caravan park. Esther loved it. Thank goodness for technology it is as easy as googling playgroups and you will see a list of locations and times to attend. This was also the case for library ‘Rhyme Time’ and have attended a few different libraries around the country when the timing has worked out, such an awesome free service.
Entrance to Carnarvon National Park:
We heard lots of wonderful things about Carnarvon National Park, but we will now have to keep it on our bucket list. We headed out there (60km detour one way), knowing that the day before the road had been closed. Although not that high, the water was flowing fast and there was more rain due that evening, We did watch others cross and survive but we decided to not risk getting flooded in when we only wanted to stay one night in order to head to the next job offer before time evaded us. We found a free camp (donation to APEX who maintain it) on the way to Gladstone called ‘Dawson River Rest Area Moura’. It was a busy spot with a little playground, toilets and apparently hot showers for a small fee.
Tannum Sands: Canoe Point Park
We pulled in for a lunch stop not sure if we would stay, but with the weather as dreary and wet as you can see we kept driving. A few of the roads were closed along the coast, so we missed out on going to 1770 which we hear is beautiful. As you can see Esther had an absolute blast playing in the sand and mud.