We're BACK - Well in Coral Bay at least!!
Trip Start Jan 23, 2010
27Trip End Jan 29, 2012
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That's what life on the road is all about though - if you like it, you keep doing it - if you don't, you move on. The freedom is exhilarating. Getting in the car and having a rough idea of where you want to be and not really knowing where you will end up is fantastic. Loving places that you never knew existed and equally being surprised by places that you did. Meeting like - minded people, sharing a drink, your adventures and not worrying about anything. Life really can be this good
So where were we on the trip - ah yes - Rollingstone and leaving our actual neighbours from Scarborough, who are also on the road.
After a wonderful couple of days with Tom and Sandy, we headed to Cairns. I couldn't believe how busy it is there. I was under the impression that it would be a lot smaller. I had been so looking forward to leaving the busyness of the East Coast. Don't get me wrong it is still a lovely spot....but a City none the less.
I enjoyed the trip to Port Douglas very much, the Captain Cook Highway meandered along the coast and frankly I thought it better than The Great Ocean Road! It was soooo beautiful and I know there was no Apostles in sight, but it only made me appreciate the coastline all the more. It seemed to hug it closer.
Port Douglas did not disappoint either and we could have stayed there for a good few weeks
Talking of our dear van - don't forget, we bought her for $6000 thinking that we would at least get across the Nullarbor and when we got to the Eastern states we would upgrade, trade her in and get a better choice of van and price than we would in WA! Well, let me tell you, she has not missed a beat! Okay, Fabio has had to tighten a few screws every now and then and of course we do not have the off road option. BUT she has been a star and it just goes to show you don't have to spend tens of thousands to make this happen. She's an oldie, but a Goldie. I don't think I could sell her now anyway!
So, we finally left the East Coast and headed up over the Great Dividing Ranges that are such an integral part of the Eastern States - something that I did not realise - and which constantly amazed me.
We were heading to Karumba, a fishing mecca in this part of the world - and one of the only made roads into the Gulf Of Carpentaria
Our fishing experience led us to a couple of great bites, two catfish and a couple of nippers but not anything that we could cook up. I was a bag of nerves as a four metre croc had been casing the joint and everyone told you to; cast and then step two or three metres back from the water. Not relaxing at all with three children casting at three different times and one husband who thought he was invincible! Luckily no croc surfaced and we got to the pub in time to experience the wonderful sunset as planned.
Onward to Mt Isa - where we had our first and only tyre issue. Luckily, Fabio does his checks as we journey hundreds of kilometres everyday and on one of the checks he spotted one of the van tyres about to burst! Probably would have made another hundred km, but thankfully we were able to escape that experience. Although changing a tyre in 40C was quite another experience altogether. I stood with him, in the heat, with encouraging words like "How much longer?" "We are all boiling here" - you know, that sort of thing "How come you didn't spot it before we left - it would have been cooler then." Hey, I was just wondering....
We set off and got the new tyre in Mt Isa, stayed just the one night before heading to Threeways Roadhouse which is the junction where the Barkly Hwy meets the Stuart Hwy and this meant that we had completed the trip - the upcoming roads, we had travelled before. It was a significant moment. We celebrated with a meal at the Roadhouse - just as well, as we travelled for three more hours than we set out for, it was hot and this girl was not cooking.
(It does irk me a bit that after we have travelled so far and for so long, that we will not have completed the Nullarbor at the end of it...so you know what that means..... Lets face it, we started the Nullarbor Links Gold Course, so we will have to finish it sometime.....)
We arrived in Katherine and realised that one year ago to the day, we were also in Katherine! The caravan park in Lower Katherine held great memories for us, we had previously caught up with our favourite Peacocks and spent an awesome Melbourne cup there with The Bells, this time we met another lovely family, who are due in Coral Bay any day, so Katherine never disappoints.
The Northern Territory is an enigma - so vast, so indigenous, so beautiful, so intriguing
And to our last stretch of travel, heading back to Western Australia. We were so excited. I remembered to empty the fridge as it's like going to a foreign country trying to enter our state! they allow nothing in! I knew this though and was more prepared than others. "What do you mean ALL the fruit and vegetables, we stocked up in Katherine!" was a cry constantly heard, but not by me. Even the officer seemed surprised and was ferreting around in the van before I could completely open the door!
I was determined that Fabio would get to see the Bungle Bungles as last time it was sooo hot that I just could not do the five hour round trip. (we were newbie travellers last time - used to it now, so could have done it) BUT we did not have the time to go in, camp and explore - he moaned so much about missing out last time, that I planned a flight over it in a helicopter for him
We drove past....he couldn't blame me this time...we could see the fire still burning and headed towards Fitzroy Crossing for an overnighter. Driving through the amazing landscape of the Kimberley Ranges is breathtaking at every turn - no we could not do the Gibb River Road, but I truly enjoy the Great Northern Highway anyway. You would think that after so long on the road that the travelling would get boring, but it just doesn't. The colours, the shapes, the scenery you can never tire of. Plus you have to keep your heads up for the cattle wandering about! The cattle stations are vast and the roads long, fencing would be impractical (helpful though!).
We came across 'our bridge' where we first spotted the crocs in the river underneath - once again there were so many! It freaks me out that this is just a tiny speck of river, under this bridge in the middle of no where and you can see so many crocodiles, I mean, just how many are out there??
Finally we were on fresh road again as we headed into Karratha, which we missed last time due to heading into Karijini National Park
But Coral Bay was calling and it was time to get there. We were equally blown away by the Pilbera again as we were the Kimberley and had to stop myself taking more photos, I learnt my lesson from the 243 I took of Uluru!!
So here we are. What is it like the second time around? I hear you ask ...... well you will just have to wait until my next blog for the answer to that one!!! Until then...... I'm off for a walk along the crystal clear waters of The Bay - why don't you come up and join us? After all, it's only 1137 km from Perth. Or of course there's always the bargain flights into Learmouth....... hour and a quarter then!!