Kimberley Adventure

12/06/14 – Well we are packed and ready for another adventure and this one is a beauty. We are off for 8 weeks to the Kimberley region. This has been on our bucket list for sometime and yeah we are finally going. This is our first trip to Western Australia, we have lots of amazing places to see and things to do on this trip, we are very excited about this one 🙂

Hooked-up

This is a map of our proposed trip a lot of km’s to cover, biggest trip yet for us. Over 12,000km’s and this is not including any side tracks. This is just the route, doesn’t list all the places we will see, or stop at along the way. We leave home heading west, via Cooyar, then along the Warrego Hwy through Roma, Morven, up to Blackall. Winton then across to Boulia and along the Plenty Hwy, then we take the longest shortcut up the Tanami Road. We then spend several days at the Bungles, which will be one of the highlights of the trip. From there it’s up to Kununurra, along the Gibb River Road. Then it’s up to Middle Lagoon and the Dampier Peninsula for a few days before heading down to Broome. We have timed our visit to Broome to tie in with the Staircase to the Moon. We have managed to squeeze in a trip to the Horizontal Waterfalls, leaving from Derby. Then it’s along the Northern Hwy to Halls Creek and then up Duncan Road joining onto the Victoria Hwy and through to Katherine. From there we stop in at Litchfield National Park before moving on to Darwin. Then it’s south back to Katherine, Mataranka, along the Roper Hwy down to Cape Crawford, along the Savannah Way to Doomadgee coming in the back way into Lawn Hill National Park. Down to Mt Isa, Boulia, Bedourie, Windorah, Charleville and back along the Warrego Hwy to home.

Our-trip

We will do our best to update our site, but we won’t have mobile reception in a lot of places or we will just be having too much fun 🙂

Beyond the Black Stump

13/6/14 – Last night we stayed at Swinging Bridge, we pulled in around 8.15pm had a quick cuppa and bed.

We were up early and on the road by 6am, big day of travel today. We had a really good run. Only hold up was road works either side of Tambo that went for ages.

With ominous looking grey clouds we stopped for the night 51km south of Blackall. We had planned to stop earlier but the official rest stops were very close to the road. Where we stopped was a large area with several tracks and it was obvious it was well used by fellow travelers.

As we were having our tea it started to rain. We quickly pushed the kitchen back in and put dirty dishes wherever they fitted to worry about in the morning. Chairs went in the camper and we read in there for a while before having an early night.

14/6/14 – It rained on and off overnight, think we had around an inch of rain. Thankfully it wasn’t raining in the morning so we were able to sort things out from the night before and only had damp canvas to pack up.

Where we had camped was black soil and when we were pulling out we got bogged. Winch had to come out and then Chris had to keep the ute moving all the way to the main road with it slipping and sliding in the wet mud.

First up have to say Blackall is an awesome county town and will we be back. Unfortunately this trip was a short visit. Quick stop at the Black Stump before moving onto the Woolscour.

Beyond-the-black-stump

Blackall has the only fully intact steam powered wool washing plant left in Australia. It operated commercially under steam power from 1908 until 1978. Even though it is now a tourist attraction it is still as fully functional now as it was then. We didn’t do the tour due to lack of time, it was $15 per adult. Tours run on the hour every hour. We were able to a wonder around the outside.

Blackall-woolscour Blackall-woolscour-machinery

We were hanging out to get to the hot springs at the Aquatic Centre. Wow at only $2 each it’s a must do destination in town. There is a 50m Olympic size pool that is 34 degrees and a spa that is 37 degrees. You can certainly feel the difference in temperatures between the pools. It was lovely to have a soak and chat to fellow travelers. We reluctantly got out as we were getting hungry for lunch and it was time to move on.

Blackall-Hot-pools

There are several sculptures in town, we saw 2 of them. Cutting Out, only his head was missing and The Eagle and Nest down near the Barcoo river.

Cutting Eagle-and-Nest

There is camping at the river $8 per night, fees payable at the information centre. We were very impressed with the town and will be planning to stay for several days next time.

Blackall-river-camping

We stopped for the night approx 90kms west from Longreach heading towards Winton. We have stopped here before, part of the old road, no one else around.

Winton-Longreach

Boulia

15/6/14 – So glad we had the heater on, it was rather a chilly night but we were nice and toasty in the camper.

We fueled up and had morning tea at Winton before heading down the Min Min byway aka the Kennedy Developmental Road to Boulia.

The road to Boulia is a lot more interesting than we expected. The road is mostly single lane, flat and treeless. Other areas have colourful jumpups that reminded us of the Painted Desert. There was more traffic on this road than we expected too, travelers like ourselves. We have seen heaps of Brogals, Wedge-tailed Eagles and Emus.

Winton-to-Boulia-roadMiddleton was in the middle of nowhere. It was one of the nine changing stations on the Cobb & Co route between Winton and Boulia. An old Cobb & Co wagon sits proudly out the front of the Middleton Hotel.

Middleton-Carriage Across the road from the hotel is Hilton Hotel, where there is no aircon, no TV, no pool and no charge. Someone has a great sense of humour.

Hotel-HiltonAnyone traveling this road must stop at Cawnpore Lookout, 360 degree view of ochre red jumpups, amazing.

Jumpups Jumpups-Cawnpore Jumpups-Cawnpore-lookout

The road from the lookout to Bouila is flat, dry and mostly treeless. Through Min Min country.

Welcome-to-BouliaWe topped off the fuel before heading down the Donohue Hwy diesel was 179.9. We found out at the servo that the Plenty Hwy has been closed for a few days due the road having 20mm of rain. Apparently 3 trucks are bogged out there. We tried the police station but it was closed, so called into the info centre who rang the person who controls the opening and closing of roads in the shire. Lucky for us the road was open to 4wd only. That’s the thing on these roads a small amount of rain can close a road so it’s always worth checking before heading down one.

Donohou-HwyIt was actually the Donohue that was closed not the Plenty.

It’s bitumen for approx 35kms out of Boulia, then dirt road which was rutted and churned up in places where vehicles had travelled along the road in the wet. It was muddy and soft in a few places, otherwise it was a good road. There are several other areas of bitumen.

Donohou-Hwy-rutsDonohou-Hwy-ruts-1We stopped for the night at Herbert Yards approx 83kms from Boulia, with another camper.

Herbert-Yards

Plenty Hwy Day 1

16/6/14 – We were thankful for the heater again last night with it being the coldest night so far.

We were on the road by 9am. The road for the next hundred Kms or so was more rutted and boggy. There were areas were the landscape was flat with no trees, others area were quite treey.

We came across a Wedge-tailed Eagle and it’s nest. But by the time we stopped to take photos it had flown off.

Eagle-NestIt’s a beautiful sunny day but the wind feels like it’s coming off Antarctica, brrr.

Reality hits how big Qld is when you have been traveling for over 3 days to finally hit the state border. As soon as we crossed the border into NT onto the Plenty Hwy the road changed to single lane and corrugated.

NT-borderPlenty-Hwy-1The road does get wider and is rough and churned up in places due to the wet. It’s is corrugated, some areas worst than others. There are patches of bull dust and some decent size holes. It is pretty rough in places.

Plenty-Hwy-2 Plenty-Hwy-bull-dust Plenty-Hwy-bull-dust-1We have camped for the night at Arthur Creek, 159km W of the Qld/NT border. Camping is along the banks of the river on either side. The river is dry and sandy. The area is very dusty, lots of trees. If it wasn’t for the hoards of flies and the chilly wind it would be a pleasant spot.

Arthur-Creek Arthur-Creek-bed Arthur-Creek-campspotIt doesn’t matter how well something is tucked up under a vehicle or trailer a well placed rock can still hit its mark. The main pump on the camper is well protected or so we thought, up high and behind the spare wheel. A rock has hit the pump and cracked the pump housing causing it to suck in air, so the pump isn’t working. Chris is very surprised it got hit where it is. Goes to show a rock can hit anywhere. He has never been happy with it outside the trailer, after this trip I think he will move it or protect it better. There are 2 pumps on the trailer, one for the shower to pump water from an external water source. We also have one of the ute for the water tank there. We have deliberately kept all the pumps the same so they can be swapped around if necessary. Not a quick or simple task though. Chris is using some silicone sealant to try and fix the crack first before going to the extra hassle and work of changing over pumps. Fingers crossed.

Plenty Hwy Day 2

17/6/14 – Gee the nights keep getting cooler. We were on the road by 9am. The road on the west side of Arthur Creek is better than the East side. Wide gravel road that is still corrugated but the corrugations aren’t as deep. On some areas of the road it is wide smooth and compacted red dirt. There are ant hills and jumpups. We even came across some road works which explains why the road had improved, for a while at least.

We passed a guy loaded up on a push bike peddling along. That’s a hard way to go.

We took the Binns Track heading for Tower Rock. We did a detour first planning on having a look at Boxhole Meteorite Crater but the gates into the crater were padlocked, obviously it’s on private property.

It’s 90km into Mac and Rose Chalmers Conservation Reserve, (Tower Rock). As you enter the reserve you are greeted with the massive mountains of red granite boulders. Very similar to the Devils Marbles only a lot less people. We are the only ones here for the arvo and camped for the night.

Rocks-everywhere Conservation-Reserve Camp-groundOue-Campsite Tower Rock was one of Rose Chalmers favourite spots. And you can see why, the view from there is amazing. Overlooking all the red granite boulders, down into the valley and a view across to the East MacDonnell Ranges. The climb is classified as difficult as you have to scramble over boulders as you work your way to the top following red paint markers on rocks. We reached a flat area near the top and the red markers disappeared. I guess whoever did the red markers decided most people wouldn’t want to go any further. We saw some rock cairns someone had made leading a path right up to the top, which we followed. The walk and climb was worth it, we were gobsmacked with the view and the red of boulders with a deep blue sky behind them. We had fun exploring the different boulders as we worked our way back down.

View-of-our-camp Tower-Rock The-Tower-Rock Heart-Rock Granite-Rocks Enjoying-the-view Boulders Amazing-Views

Push

Mac and Rose are buried here. They have amazing views for their final resting place.

Mac-and-Rose-resting-place

There are umm toilets at the camping area, they have great views, lots of fresh air but not a lot of privacy.

Windy-Loo Chris-on-loo

Plenty to the Tanami

18/6/14 – Another cool night, it’s the wind that is the killer, without that it wouldn’t be so bad. The only sound we heard last night was a few dingoes.
Tower-Reserve Morning-LightWe were up well before the sun, early breaky waiting for the sun to light up the rocks. On the road by 8.30am Qld time, since we will only be in NT for a few days no point changing clocks, it’s still dark at 7am. We turned left when we came out of the reserve, which would see us doing a loop and joining back up onto the Binns Track and up round to Old Mac Donald Downs (farm).
Binns-Track
Mac-Donalds-Truck
The last 96kms of the Plenty Hwy is bitumen.
End-of-the-Dirt-Plenty
Once off the Plenty we headed into Alice Springs to have lunch, fill up fuel and drinking water and go on the net and send off some posts. Can’t say we like Alice, filling up with water was not an easy task. We found out that you either need to fill up at a van park or at a servo as there are no taps. We happen to pick the Shell servo on the way out of town that only had one diesel pump and the only tap to fill up water was at that same pump. Rather ridiculous but we got there in the end.

Make sure everything is locked up at your vehicles and don’t leave them too long if it can be avoided. I had to pop into Coles and Chris stayed at the Ute. 2 local kids came and checked the ute and trailer out looking like they were up to no good. They didn’t know Chris was watching them in the rear vision camera. Once they saw him they took off like a bat out of hell. It was so nice to be back out of town and starting down the Tanami Track

Tanami-RoadWest-MacDonnell-RangesWe stopped for the night approx 123km from Alice at Charlie Creek Rest Area. It’s a big flat area, some trees, nice vista, has bins, shelter and tables, some gravel which was a nice change from red dust. One other traveler was there. An very interesting man traveling alone in his home made off road caravan. Lots of amazing stories and tales to tell. He could talk the hind leg off a donkey. It was nice to sit and chat, admire the million of stars and not have that chilly wind for a change.
Night-Spot The-View

The Tanami

19/6/14 – We found out about 9pm local time that road trains also use this rest area. One arrived and stayed until 5.30am, he left and another one pulled in.

From Alice Springs to Halls Creek the Tanami is the longest shortcut in the world at 1077km. Total unsealed length 763km.

We were on the road by 9am local time. We stopped and topped up the tank at Tilmouth Well roadhouse. Fuel was $2.25L. There are no doors on the loos.

Tilmouth-Well

The Tanami is bitumen until just past Tilmouth Well. The road was a lot wider, corrugated and bull dust. We stopped and had morning tea and Chris let the tyres down ready to tackle the dirt. There are sections of bitumen.

Tananmi-Road

Tananmi-Road-2

We stopped at Renahans Bore for lunch, another spot that you can stay the night with fireplace, shelter, table and water tank.

Renehans-Bore

Road-train

Corrugations

It was about 4pm and we were starting to look for a place to stop when we heard a bang and the Ute pulled to the right, with Chris grabbing the steering wheel tightly to gain control and get us to stop safely. With him saying this isn’t good, this isn’t good and he was right. We had lost a wheel, with the studs on the wheel snapped off and the brake backing plate dragged along the ground.

Not-Good

We found the tyre in one direction in the bush the brake drum in the opposite direction and the nuts and cap close to the road. Someone how we managed to find all the bits bar one nut. When the wheel and brake drum had come off the Ute they damage the mud flap bending it backwards and damaged the edge of the stone stomper. One or both had also hit the stone guard on the trailer putting a small rip in it and breaking the 20lr water drum on the front of the trailer. So we had wet red mud all over the front of the trailer and rear of the ute. The stone stomper and guard would have protected the trailer. The brake backing plate was damaged and curled inwards so it was flat along the bottom, Chris pulled it all back into shape with vice grips. We had also been leaking brake fluid which Chris soon stopped. As bad as it was it could have been a lot worst.

Opps

Wheel-Ruts

Chris jacked up the front wheel with the idea of using 2 studs from each front wheel but they weren’t so easy to get too. So he took 3 from the other back wheel. Eventually after 6 hrs on the side of the Tanami Road we started moving again it was after 10pm by this time, brakes were a bit dodgy, the brake warning light on the ute was on. All we wanted to do was find a place to stop for the night. After 20 odd Kms of going slow we broke another stud on the same wheel as it had not been pulled through its hole enough and had come lose. Poor Chris was kicking himself that he didn’t stop and check it all earlier. Thankfully were we had stopped we could pull off the road safely for the night. We eventually crawled into bed after 11pm.

Chris was feeling pretty bad we had broken down and were stuck. All I thought was damn I sure married the right guy, he is so handy and can fix most things to get us out do trouble. This was the last thing we thought could go wrong, we will be carrying extra studs now. How did it happen? We didn’t hit anything, sure the road was a bit rough but we have been on far worst. Chris said the studs can crack when they have been tightened too hard with a rattle guns at workshops and then at some unknown time break and the wheels come off.

Halls Creek

21/6/14 – We had decided we needed to get up early and be on the road around 7am. We just hadn’t said which 7am. Qld, NT which is half an hour behind Qld or WA which is 2 hours behind Qld. We are kind of between time zones at the moment. It was still dark when we got up but it was light enough to drive by the time we were ready to go.

There are quite a few burnt out car wrecks along the Tanami, we have seen this once before on the Finke Road. We thought it would be a good idea to check a few of the wrecks for spare wheel studs. Luck finally went our way, the second one we checked was a burnt out Holden Rodeo, an older version of our Ute. The studs were rusted on and took a bit of gentle bashing to get off but we had 6 studs as an insurance policy if we broke any more.

Us-next-to-our-insurance Insurance

We had heard over a CB that the WA side of the Tanami was pretty ordinary and they weren’t half wrong. Some of the corrugations were pretty savage particularly in the state our Ute was in, we could do without them. We continued to check the wheels every 20kms.

Corrugated-Road Corrugated-Road-2

We had to forgo going into Wolfe Creek this time, we had more pressing priorities. Everything was going well so the last 120kms Chris decided to push the checks out to every 30kms.

The quarantine bin is right at the end of the dirt on the Tanami just before the turnoff on bitumen.

WA-Quantine WA-Quanteen

Once in Halls Creek we called into the servo and got some brake fluid, this made a massive difference to the brakes but they might still need bleeding. They told us to call into the local Toyota place for the studs. Chris picked up 2 sets of studs and nuts, they weren’t quite right but hoped they would do the job, turned out where they seat is slightly too long. We were told the IGA would hopefully sell a water drum, which it did. We then proceeded to fine a place with shade to have lunch and work on the Ute. After a while we were drawing too much local attention with some of the local kids coming over and seeing what we were doing. One sat down next to Chris having a chat when he started touching Chris’s tools. After being told to leave it alone he didn’t so I had to tell him to move on. Another kid came over and we had to tell him the same thing. Way to many locals walking past, we didn’t feel comfortable or safe so we moved ourselves out the front of the police station. Funny enough none of them came and checked if we were ok, other travellers on the road that saw us stranded did.

Chris fixed the ok back wheel first using the new studs but when he went to fix the one we had lost he found the new studs were not going to work as they wouldn’t go in properly due to the brake drum. So guess what, the ones we took from the burnt out Holden Rodeo ended up saving the day as Chris used them. If we come across a Toyota somewhere that has broken wheel struts we will be able to help them out. 🙂 The front one is getting it’s original studs put back in, which will take a while. All going well, we should be back on the road in a few more hours and heading towards a rest stop near the Bungles.

Bungle Bungles, Purnululu National Park

22/06/14 – We stopped last night at Leycesters Rest Area, 100km north of Halls Creek. It was around 8.30pm and the place was packed with caravans, took us while to find a place to set up camp. We had a cuppa and headed for bed. Forgot to say that if you want drinking water at Halls Creek it will cost you 20c per litre from the info centre.

We had a sleep in, well it felt like a sleep in, 6am local time which is 8am Qld. Some noisy people woke us. We had a leisurely breakfast, we weren’t in too much of a hurry. Plan was to be in at the National Park by lunch.

The turn off to the Bungles wasn’t that far from the rest area. Once through the gate there is an information booth and parking. We stopped and let the tyres down. It’s only 52km to the National Park visitor centre but the info says it can take 2-3 hrs due to the rough road. It is corrugated, has rocks, loose gravel but the worst part is it’s windy and hilly so you can’t go very fast so feel the corrugations more. There were 10 water crossings into the visitor info centre none of them very deep.

Road-in We had booked and paid online so it was a just a case of getting the campsite maps and the camping slip to keep on the dash in the car. Online we had to pick our sites but we were told we didn’t have to have the same sites and could choose any we wanted. Turns out we got the same site number at the Kurrajong Campground no 37 as it was a beauty. Large, and pretty well on our own with no close neighbours. There are a lot of campsites coming off different loops so we certainly didn’t check them all out.

Purnululu-National-Park Today was a bit of a reccy day. Setup, sort ourselves out a bit, relax and get the lay of the land. We did go for a drive to check areas out ready for an early start tomorrow. It is so hot in the arvo, we want to hit the walks early before it’s too hot then relax in the shade. It’s is so nice to be here, we were concerned at one stage we might end up missing the Bungles due to the Ute issues but all we missed out on was Wolfe Creek Crater.

Stonehenge Bloodwoods

Trip so far.

TripToDate20140623

Bungle Bungle, Northern walks

23/6/14 – Wow, photos do not do this place justice. We got up reasonably early and headed to the Bloodwoods to do 2 of the walks. the Homestead and Echidna Chasm. Mini Palms walk was closed.

Bloodwoods

The Homestead is a 4.4km return walk. It is a great walk with lots of interesting rocks to see along the way, it’s a case of which way do we point the camera. We had the Homestead Valley area to ourselves for approx half an hour. It was lovely, so peaceful and quiet.

Homestead-walk5 Homestead-walk3Homestead-walk1 Homestead-walk

Homestead-sign Homestead-5 Homestead-4 Homestead-3 Homestead-2 Homestead Homestea-1

Bug-and-flower

We walked back to the Bloodwoods car park, had morning tea and then drove around to Echidna Chasm. The walk is 2km return, not as interesting a walk as the Homestead walk but wow amazing in the chasm. We walked all the way to the end, over the big boulders, up the stairs. The best time to be there is 11.30am with the sun just about vertical and shines into the chasm and starts lightening up the walls. It was like they were on fire.

Echida-Chasm

Echinda walk Echinda-Walk3 Echinda-Walk2

Echinda12 Echinda11 Echinda10 Echinda9 Echinda8 Echinda7 Echinda6 Echinda5 Echinda4 Echidna3 Echidna2 Echidna Echidna.-1

It’s too hot to do any of the walks in the arvo so we just headed back to camp.