Back on the road, heading down the West Coast

Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
Trip End Apr 22, 2011

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Where I stayed
Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park
Big4 Pilbara Holiday Park

Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Monday, January 10, 2011


Monday 10th January 2011

It started in the trees, rushing through the branches, we heard the wind long before we felt it. Then came the rain, not too much but driven in by the strong wind, the thunder and lightning were the worst.  From midnight until 8am the storm raged outside, the thunder was continuous never giving up, lighting lit up the sky in every direction only stopping to let the thunder suddenly boom out and shake the van so hard the glass bottles in the cupboard jingled and you felt it vibrate in your chest.  About 2am the power went off and with it the fan......the heat hits you quickly when there nothing moving the air around.....still it would have been worse for the ones in air-conditioning.  It took half an hour before someone woke the campsite manager up (how he was sleeping in this storm I don't know) to turn the generator on....ahh cool air again.  We slept on and off through the storm but by 6am we realised we were not going to be doing an eight hour drive today and would stay one more night.  We actually booked in for four more nights, simple so we could make use of the weekly rate which was a saving of over $5 a day plus we are enjoying ourselves here and are not really ready to leave yet.

With the van all filled up with food and the pair of us completely exhausted from lack of sleep, we opted for a lazy day....never a hard decision.   It was still raining outside and it felt good lounging around in the van, watching TV and eating the mounds of egg mayonnaise I had premade the day before for sandwiches.  When we got too hot we went for a swim in the pool, life is good.

Tuesday 11th January 2011

Seeing as we had booked ourselves in for four more days Gary phone up a mechanic to service the van as it has done over 176000km and was due one.  We had arranged to drop the van off at 8.30am at a garage about 5km down the road.  We didn’t really plan our day very well, the idea was to drop the van off then ride back and sit round the pool until it was ready.  The first part went fine, we found the garage easily and dropped the van off, jumped on our bikes a rode back to the campsite.  We set up round the pool and jumped in the pool for a swim and cool off from our ride.  We have taken all our worldly goods out the van just in case, laptop, passports, money, phone, camera, satnav.....yes and put them all in one bag, I know what you’re going to say but what else could we do.  However theft wasn’t our first concern, rain was about to ruin everything.  We were happily splashing around in the water when we noticed it had started to drizzle.  Although the pool is shady the sail shades are not water proof so when the rain went from a shower to a full monsoon downpour we had to act fast.  We had put the small tarpaulin on the washing line to dry before we left, so Gary ran and grabbed and wrapped the bag in it.  We thought we would wait the rain out in the pool, but it didn’t let up, so with nowhere to shelter we headed for the laundry room...there are always magazines to read in there.  We dried off and read a few Take a Break type mags but we still had a couple of hours to kill and standing in the laundry room was getting us funny looks, so we walked over to the camp kitchen where there are tables and chairs and we made camp there for the remainder of our wait playing computer chess.  Eventually the mechanic called and we rode over to collect our baby.  Expecting a huge bill, the mechanic said she was in good condition for her age and she didn’t need any work doing so just charged us for a basic oil and filter change. 

We had been lucky the only time it stopped raining all day was the two times we went out on our bikes.  The rest of the day we spent in the van reading and watching the rain come down.  We had new neighbours today who have a Ute with a tent on the roof.  It looked lots of fun, that was until the wind got up again in the evening and blew through the campsite at a rate of not’s....then I was glad we were a bit more earth bound.

Wednesday 12th January 2011

The sun came out, which was great as we had planned to go for a walk on the nudist beach today. Gary thinks he’s going to see rows of naked hot chicks......I think he’s going to be disappointed!!

Cable Beach makes you stop and stare every time you see it, the beautiful Jade coloured sea and white sand is mesmerising.  We climbed over the rocks and on to the other beach, there are lots of 4WD’s down here and tracks go on for miles.  This end of the beach is 17km long.....we won’t be walking all of it.  The nudist beach is the first part then it turns into Dog Beach where the 4WDers can take their dogs for a run.  To Gary’s disappointment there was only one naturist on the beach a rather chunky man with his 4WD....we said g’day as we walked past.

After our long walk down the beach we went back to the campsite for a swim and cool off.  Cable Beach has a lovely breeze but the second you leave the seafront that breeze goes and the heat kicks in.  This heat would be unbearable in the van if it wasn’t for the trees which cover the campground and leave it very cool and shaded.

After our swim we went back and cooked an early dinner as we are going back down to the beach tonight with a picnic to watch the sunset.  There is a Webcam on the walkway above the beach and I posted on Facebook that we would stand in front of it at a certain time and wave to the folk at home.  What we didn’t consider was the webcam is above a restaurant, which at the time we suggested was full of dinners eating supper and watching the sun go down.  So we had to stand in front of them waving like idiots while they looked back at us confused.  Still it was worth doing and my friend Terri took some great still shots of us and posted them on Facebook.

After our Webcam experience we set a blanket down on the grass and tucked into our sunset picnic of cheese, crackers and wine.....very civilised. It was lovely sitting talking about our time in Broome and watching the sunset.  As darkness draw in we packed up our bits and walk slowly back to the van, it had been a lovely day.

Thursday 13th January 2011

Our last day of getting up and doing our lengths in the pool, we are defiantly leaving tomorrow, the only small problem we may have is Cyclone Vince, who appeared a couple of days ago off the Western Coast and was threatening to hit the very town we are heading for, however the predicted path should see it take a change of direction and follow the coast for a while before heading out to sea so we ought be ok.  We had also changed our minds on the next town we are visiting having read Linda and Bob’s blog.  They went to a remote beach called Eighty Mile Beach and loved it there, the only downside is it has no phone or internet communication, no shops only a campsite and with a cyclone winding off shore we may be in for some bad weather.

We need to do another shop before we hit the highway again, stock up on water and basics.  We drove into town and went to Coles this time...only because they have UK made Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, the Aussie stuff just doesn’t taste the same, it’s a luxury item at $7 a jar.  We also had lunch in McDonald’s for old time sake.  We spent our last day catching up on emails and checking road and weather reports for tomorrow’s journey.  Steak and salad for dinner, walked over to the camp kitchen to use the BBQ’s and got chatting to two Aussie girls with a little boy and a guy from New Zealand looking for work.

Friday 14th January 2011

Back on the road again, we were both very sad to leave Broome, it was a nice town and great campsite but we are only about half way round Australia and still have a long way to go.  We had all our usual chores to do to get back on the road, putting the bikes back on the back, move all the water containers from the front of the van to the back, lock all the cupboard doors, move the fan, pull the roof down and put Bernie in the front.  I made tuna mayo rolls, and made the mistake of pouring the tune water on to the ground outside the van, it attracted a swarm of blow flies which flew into a frenzy every time we went in or out the van....yuk!!

The weather looked gray and overcast as we left Broom and the clouds got steadily darker the further down the highway we drove.  There was a big black cloud right in our path and there was no way of avoiding the soaking we were going to get.  The rain hammered down on the van, you could just about see the road in front but what was foremost in our mind was the road would flood and we would be stranded.  Thirty minutes later we emerged out the other side unscathed and into clear blue skies. 

The scenery is unchanged for this part of the country still very red soil and scrub lands as far as the eye can see.  Gary’s new driving game is avoiding the lizards that are using the Highway and their byway, playing chicken across the road.  These lizards range from 2cm long to 1metre long and Gary keeps swinging all over the road to avoid them.....good job the roads are so empty or I think he would have killed us by now. 

Distance                               376km
Accommodation                    $34
Weather                                 34 degrees sea breezy

  We arrived at the turn off for Eighty Mile Beach and were instantly thrown on to a very red unsealed road.  Shake, rattle and roll is the only way I can describe the next 10km as we had crawl along at a average of 12mph because any faster vibrated the inside van uncontrollably, making every bottle, can and pot jiggle.  It took us 35mins to do a drive that should have taken less than 10min, but our first view of Eighty Mile Beach over a big ridge just as you enter the caravan site was amazing.  Pale turquoise sea and white sand dunes....beautiful.  There is nothing around us for miles, no shops, no phones, no houses (other than the owners), it is very remote. The office was closed so after much deliberating we picked our site and set the van up.  There is a lovely cool breeze coming in off the sea and we parked the van so we can have the back up and the breeze is working like air-conditioning.

We got chatting to the owner and his grandson who drove over on their quads and parked up to take the van details for the booking office.  He told us about a category 5 Cyclone that had charged through the campsite December 2009 uprooting all the trees and palms and flooding the whole area.  Once a shady campground it only had a dozen or so trees left.   There is still evidence of the destruction on the road to the camp ground and by the beach where there are piles of dead tree left to die off.  A year on the campsite looks amazing, you would never even think anything had happened.

We took a walk over the sand dunes to the beach, it was lovely white sand as far as you could see, but on closer inspection it wasn’t white sand but piles of shells.  You couldn’t walk on the beach without crunching whole shells, it felt wrong to walk on such beauty but then there were so many of them, not thousands but millions of different shapes and sizes and this went on for miles, so what else could you do.  We walked up and down the beach for an hour, picking up shells, taking photos, enjoying the sun and splendour of it all.

We cooked dinner in the camp kitchen, mince chow mien a Di special and one of favourite meals in Australia.  Exhausted after a long drive we washed up and then set the bed up, but having watched TV for a bit we found ourselves wide awake and it was only 9pm.  So what do you do at 9pm at night on a dark go turtle hunting obviously!!  The turtles climb up on this beach late at night to lay their eggs and then the little turtles run down the beach into the water to freedom...that’s if the seagull don’t get them first.  So we grabbed a couple of torches and headed for the pitch black beach in the dead of night....well 9.20pm.  The tide was out, and I mean way out, it must have been out half a mile from us, we had a walk up and down but saw no evidence of turtle activity, this was probably because the tide was out and the turtles come out the sea and make their way up the beach to past the high tide mark where they then dig a hole and lay their eggs.  They then have to make their way back down the beach and back into the water.....a busy night for a turtle and in low tide I think it would have been too far but I am no Turtle expert.  We did find some crabs but that was all so we went back to the van and turned in for the night.

Saturday 14th January 2011
We were up and back on the unsealed road doing some early morning off roading, the poor van she doesn’t like the rough stuff.  There were a number of wallabies running across the road but we were no danger to them, not going the speed we were fact most of them just stopped and stared at us.....sniggering I think!!  We finally reached the end of the red track and stopped the check the bikes.  We had a bit of a predicament with the bike rack yesterday.  We thought perhaps we could take the whole bike rack off with the bikes still attached and then just put it back on again in the morning....the conclusion was that we bent one of the bike clamps and the bike doesn’t sit in it properly anymore, luckily the bike holder is for three bikes so all was not lost but we won’t be trying that again.

At the first petrol stop we filled up and stopped under a tree for a bit of breakfast.  There were three bikers, one on a Harley Davison, also having a snack and filling up with petrol.  Gary thought it was funny that while he was cleaning his windscreen they came over and used the washer on their just reminded him of the film Wild Hogs.  Once breakfast was over we got back on the road, this time with me driving.  I love driving on these open roads, no one in front of you, no one behind and the road is straight in front of you for miles.  I didn’t play the lizard game, but in fairness I don’t think a saw one lizard on the road....but then I wasn’t looking that hard.   Another 180km down the road we stopped again for petrol....always get it while you can.  Gary need a pee (walnut*) so I parked the van up at the side of the petrol station, having filled up, and waited for him to come back.  He jumped in and I reversed out....having never reversed the van before I was a little uncertain of the length...luckily Gary was on the ball as I was an inch off the car behinds bonnet....opps!!  Gary, now a bag of nerves, wouldn’t let it go and made comments for the rest of the journey...I suppose it didn’t help that I also left the petrol station with handbrake on and didn’t notice until 10km down the road....double Opps!!  The next rest stop Gary took back over the driving...he felt safer.....I am a good driver honest!!

Distance                               480km
Accommodation                    $39.60
Weather                               36 degrees breezy

Arrived at Karratha and pulled straight into the shopping centre, we wanted a little look round and it was only 2pm so we had plenty of time to kill.  It’s very hot today, we did most of the journey with aircon on and that’s not like us.  So the walk from the car to the shopping centre felt like walking into a hairdryer.  We bought a few bits in Kmart, Coles and the bottle shop and went back to the van with four bags and a new laptop tray so I can type on the road.

The campsite was very expensive, another Big4 but we expected something special for the money and we were a bit disappointed.  It was clean and tidy but lacked the VIP feeling that comes with the price tag.  We cooked stuffed peppers with left over Chow Mein and beef pot noodle.....tasted great.

Sunday 16th January 2011

 We have a lot of ground to cover today so it was up early and get the snags on the BBQ for Sausage butties, we picked up a top tip from an Ozzie girl, if you put grease proof paper down on the Barbie first, the food cooks through it and you have no mess to clean up....just throw the paper I need to state that obviously this will only work for hotplate BBQ’s??

Our journey today took about seven hours and didn’t involve me getting behind the wheel once, I think after yesterdays 'Issues’ Gary had lost faith in my driving!!  We did drive through some lovely scenery today, over hills that when you arrive at the crest the whole world is mapped out in front of you and all you can say is ‘wow’!  We said ‘wow’ a lot on this drive, we also said ‘Grid’ a colossal amount of’s a habit we have got into when we see a cattle grid sign we shout ‘Gggrrriiiddd’ it passes the time and lets the other person know you are about to go over one as they make a bit of a racket when you hit them at 100km/h.  This highway however had an unusually large amount of grids.

  We encountered the usual lizards, birds and cows in the road but also an airstrip... the main highway doubled up on one stretch as an emergency runway for the Flying Doctor.  Neither of us could understand what vehicles were meant to do while this plane came down....there were no traffic lights or instructions about ‘What you should do in the event of a plane land in front of your car’....and what are road trains meant to do because if it came to a standoff between a road train and a small plane....I know who my moneys on!!  We managed to continue on our journey with no light aircraft landing on our roof.  At lunch time I dragged all the ingredients for ham sandwiches into the front of the van and made them on my new laptop table as it was nice and cool under the aircon.  It was a particularly hot day today, usually when we stop for food the van heats up instantly so today I when for the cooler option.

Petrol is still expensive and the roadhouses are getting further apart, so you are forced to fill up or run out.  We did however meet a nice chap today who came out, filled the tank up for us, clean the windows, had a bit of friendly advice on where we were heading and kept us updated on the news in Queensland....good old fashion service.

Distance                               553km
Accommodation                    $23.40
Weather                                    36 degrees Hot hot hot 

Arrived in Exmouth about 3.30pm and had a quick drive round the town before heading for the Big4 caravan park.  As normal for his time of year there were only a few vans in the park so we had a good choice of pitches.  As dusk came so did the kangaroos and cockatoo’s.  Cockatoo’s have to be the noisiest bird in Australia, they can’t do anything without making a racked about it and dusk really sets them off squawking and screeching, still they are pretty to look at and very photogenic.  There is not much shade in this campsite but there is a lovely breeze that sweeps though our van, the only downside is the flies, they are very persistent here.

*referrers to having a bladder the size of a walnut, therefore needing to pee a lot.

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