WA - Wicked Adventure

Trip Start Oct 17, 2007
Trip End Oct 16, 2008

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Friday, July 25, 2008

Western Australia is massive. The State covers a third of the Australian continent, which makes it nearly the size of India but is home to only 1.8 million people, most of whom live within 200km of Perth. Basically, big place, very empty.

So on our three week road trip from Broome to Perth we kinda guessed that the first two and a half weeks would be pretty quiet. So quiet in fact that a lone petrol station is often the only sign of civilisation for hundreds of kilometres.

We get the odd wave from the Grey Nomads (mature Aussie caravaners who spend months, even years on the road) we pass along the way - a welcome 'wake up' when we haven't seen a living soul for best part of an hour, but the friendliest encounters by far are with the brave (or skint) people who have also found themselves with the somewhat dubious honour of piloting a Wicked heap.

There is a certain cameradery between Wicked travellers and the frantic waving and flashing of lights says more "Thank goodness we're not the only ones" and "It's ok - ours is rubbish too, we know what you're going through" than merely "Hello". And of course there's the obligatory gawp to see if our paint job is better than theirs, in this case probably not as our '12 Apostles' van, which we've called Dugdug in honour of the convincing impersonation of a tractor it does for the first half hour of each trip, has a random collection of famous faces , several of which we're yet to identify (have a look at the pics and see if you can help us out).

Our first major stop, almost 1000km in, was Karijini National Park where numerous gorges and more of those pools and waterfalls we seem to be drawn to carve through the deep red iron-rich earth. Everything we own (including us as it happens) is now covered in a layer of dark red dust.But it's worth it. The basic but spacious Dales Gorge Campground made an ideal base from which to explore the gorge itself.

We started with a walk along the rim, peering into the depths when the path strayed close enough, and then decended to Fortescue Falls and the picturesque Fern Pool, where local Aboriginal people believe their serpent ancestor lives, and then scrambled, paddles and clambered our way back along the base of the gorge to the icy cold waters of the Circular Pool swimming hole. Having learned our lesson in Kakadu we stayed firmly on dry land and spent a while soaking up the peace and quiet and admiring the gently trickling waterfall before hauling ourselves up the steep stony steps back to the lookout at the edge of the gorge where we began.

We hoped to explore more of the gorges to the North of the park but the unsealed roads frightened our rickety old van so much that it started shedding pieces before the bumps even began.

So, slightly disappointed, we headed West to WA's second highest peak (by a measly 7 metres!) Mount Bruce (Punurrunha). Now at a height of just 1235m we expected the 4.5km track to be a poor substitute for the trails around the Northern gorges... but we were wrong.

The initial steady climb on a fairly well made path did have us worried that we'd be to the top and back in an hour but then the path disappeared and we were faced with nothing but a large pile of rocks and a sheer cliff edge. Fantastic! Something to get our teeth into. After a couple of false starts we scrambled over the rocks and onto the path again, but not for long as the loose rocks, steep climbs, sheer drops and not very well defined route combined to make the rest of the hike quite demanding but great fun and it was really satisfying to reach the top and take a look at the ranges and plains for miles around.We could also clearly see the Marandoo iron ore mine where the dumper trucks looked like Dinky toys - on closer inspection we discovered they're not so small after all!

We signed the visitors book and Scruffy added a stone to the ever growing mound at the summit, and then it was back the way we came, slipping and scrambling our way down to the car park and a well earned cuppa!

From here we headed West to the second phase of our Wicked Adventure.
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