Bullara, Coral Bay and Exmouth

p1100197From Dampier we travelled 161 km south to Robe River for an overnight stop on Wed 14th, travelling on the next day to Bullara Station located between Coral Bay and Exmouth.

p1100190We had stops along the way to photograph wildflowers and to top up fuel at Nanutarra Roadhouse.

 

 

 

 

p1100272The welcome at Bullara was lovely and we selected a camp spot aided by John our camp host. It was a shaded and partly sheltered spot which we booked for 5 nights. We wound up extending to nearly 3 weeks.

 

 

 

p1100242We joined other campers around the camp fire at 5pm for happy hour and damper.

This became a ritual as John ( Damper John) cooked damper 6 nights a week.

He has been coming here from Victoria for a number of years and is part of the family.

 

 

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Bullara is a quarter of a million acres running 3500 Droughtmaster cattle and is a third generation family enterprise.

Dennis and Colleen who recommended the place to us were there. We had met them at Vince Connolly Crossing NT.

While on Bullara we visited both Exmouth and Coral Bay a couple of times.

 

 

p1100234We snorkelled over Ningaloo Reef and explored the small township of Coral Bay. Swimming with the fish and also a baby dolphin was special. Exmouth was more of a fuel and provision stop, plus haircut marathon. My flat top took over one hour to complete!!!

We fished at Learmonth, opposite the RAAF base, in Exmouth Gulf and drove up onto the Cape Range for views back over the gulf where humpback whales and their calves were seen out to sea.

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Coffee and scones jam and cream enticed us to The Homestead on more than one occasion.

kooda-2It was there that we met Kooda, the pet red kangaroo.

Kooda means little mate.

p1100214A few Dorper/Damara sheep are also present as remnants of the flock which was sold off due to attacks from wild dogs. Friday nights were sausage sizzle time at the old woolshed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Damper John took me for a drive out onto the station where I saw my first Perente or Bungarra, which is related to the Komodo Dragon.

We put up an emu and saw the wetlands which are dry this year due to low rainfall. They still looked great with all the coolibah trees. The windmills were destroyed last year by cyclone Olwyn and are just a tangled mass of metal. We saw a whistling kite and numerous low flowering bushes amongst the spinifex.

The beer bottle walk, so named because it is marked by beer bottles, leads out into the red sand dunes.p1100225

p1100220It passes a Bower Bird nest and the bower can be seen with its colourful attractants on display.

The days were very windy stirring up the red dust.

 

 

 

p1100247A couple of nights around the campfire were made most entertaining by Barry who stayed for a few days, played guitar and sang with a great repertoire, and a great sense of humour.

Our wedding anniversary was celebrated with scones, jam and cream at the homestead and Dawn and Lucy ( middle daughter) cooked Anzac biscuits for the muster team.

Dawn baked a camembert cheese and Damper John cooked a sourdough loaf which we three shared at happy hour one evening.

 

 

Our campsite had visits from Brownie the sheep, several horses, a goanna, zebra finches and white plumed honey eaters.

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The facilities were very good with 3 of the bathrooms open to the sky.

p1100213Every bathroom and toilet has a bolt outside as well as one inside, and it was easy to get locked in.

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We really enjoyed our time there thanks to Tim, Edwina, Olivia, Lucy and Mimi and in no small way to Damper John.

To Dennis and Colleen, who had to leave early and return to Busselton, thanks again for your friendship, and we look forward to catching up again down south.

Our time at Bullara inspired a couple of poems which Are written below this post.

 

BULLARA

It’s five o’clock and happy hour so join us for some damper,                                                                 

With John around the fire pit they all begin to scamper.                                                                                    

To catch up with friends both old and new, and some a yarn to tell,                                                           

A wind blown bunch of nomads sharing travel tales as well.

A trip out on the station some wildlife will reveal,                                                                                     

With emu and a big red roo, the bungarra looks unreal.                                                                             

The zebra finch are nesting while the bustard struts his stuff,                                                            

Corella shriek their warning that to live out here is tough.

A relentless wind still blows and is stirring up the dust,                                                                               

Everything is covered in a fine red outback crust.                                                                                            

The evening sky is filled with dust midst a sunset oh so red,                                                                                 

And we batten down the hatches for a windy night ahead.

Another day on Bullara has dawned quite bright and sunny,                                                                                  

It clouded over  quickly when someone locked me in the dunny.                                                                  

Life’s cares and woes are gone my friends here on Bullara Station,                                                                    

 Explore, relax and rest a bit in this part of our great nation.

 

THE MUSTER BEGINS

Daybreak. The roar of utes and bikes shatter the silence as a chopper takes to the air.                                  

A quiet excitement and anticipation stirs the blood of the muster team with prickling of the hair.

After months of preparation the day finally did arrive                                                                                   

For Bullara stock to bunch up in a mob before the drive.

The first mob of the muster is milling behind the rails,                                                                                   

Awaiting drafting, weaning, marking and all that that entails.

Tim’s hands upon the drafting gates are flashing back and forth,                                                                    

As bellowing stock rush past into the pens he sorts.

A brindle steer with nostrils flared and eyes as big as plates                                                                    

Twists back and forth and bellows as it refuses at the gates.

There’s one in every mob that tries the patience of the men.                                                         

Persistence wins out in the end as it’s drafted to its pen.

There’s not a cattle dog in sight upon Bullara Station,                                                                                

And the stock are handled firmly with much care and dedication.

The month ahead holds more of the same with sun and dust and flies,                                                         

In this special place, Bullara, under western clear blue skies.

Port Hedland , Cleaverville and Dampier

Wednesday 7th September and we travelled to Port Hedland where we camped at the golf club for a night on power to re charge everything.

p1100133We shopped at Sth Hedland and explored the port area watching ships being loaded with iron ore. The ore trains are over a klm long and road trains are everywhere. Quarries and mine sites abound and we passed a large hill of salt being pushed up by a bulldozer.

 

 

 

Thursday and we were out of here with morning tea at Peawah River and then on to Cleaverville, near Roebourne. This was a recommendation from Dave and Heather from Hervey Bay, who we met at Cape Keraudren. The drive into the beach after passing through Roebourne is 11km of dirt road, which except for a few heavily corrugated stretches, was pretty good.

p1100149We found the caretaker and paid for 4 nights, setting up camp in the sand dunes with many others. Re-met Steve and Greer from Cape Keraudren ( ex Mooloolaba).

Our midgie bitten bodies were looking forward to a bit of respite here and other than a few sand flies it wasn’t too bad.

 

 

p1100142The beach is beautiful and on the drive here we passed roadsides covered in Sturt Peas, plus there were pink, yellow, purple and cream flowers everywhere. The dunes here are covered in parts with flowers.

Sadly, our fishing here was unsuccessful. However we enjoyed walks along the beach where there are stones of many colours including some small white ones which may make a good bracelet later. This is week 3 of our trying the 5 and 2 diet and we have shed a few kilos each and both feel better for it.

 

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A walk up the dunes behind our camp revealed some more flowers and a great view.

Ian and Marg from Maryborough were here also and joined us for drinks and nibbles. We saw a turtle swim past as we fished and there were whales out at sea.

p1100175There was a beautiful sunset on our last night.

 

 

 

p1100179Dampier Transit Park was our next stop. We had intended staying for 3 nights, but the council had hiked their fees with no improvement to pretty basic facilities, so we made it 2 instead.

Ian and Marg turned up here also and camped beside us.

This is “Red Dog”country and we visited his memorial

 

Dawn had another kidney stone attack and we wound up at Karratha Hospital. Everything settledp1100181 down and tests and scans subsequently showed that the stone/s were gone.

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We drove out to NW Shelf oil and gas project and looked through the information centre including a DVD on the project which was very good.

The igneous rock piles here are very interesting and similar formations are found only in Ireland.

 

Drinks and nibbles with Ian and Marg followed by roast lamb dinner.

Next stop is Robe River.

 

Cape Keraudren

On 31 st August we left Stanley Rest Area camp at 7.30am and re-fueled at Sandfire Roadhouse where they were CASH ONLY. We managed to scrape up enough to get us to Pardoo. There were many unhappy customers at Sandfire who had no cash on them. The was not an eftpos machine in sight either and the atmosphere was above simmering.

We filled up at Pardoo Roadhouse and turned off for the cape.

When checking out the first possible camp site we got bogged in the sand as we were turning back. Thanks to a helpful fisherman we were towed out to firm ground.

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We set up further along the coast in a lovely spot right on the edge of the beach. Our neighbours are all from Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Maryborough. They have been catching whiting , bream and salmon so hopes are high.

p1100125We had a good walk along the beach and caught crab for bait. The tide goes out close to two kms here.

Our first evening had a gentle breeze and lovely slightly cloudy sunset.

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We have seen brolga at a distance and will try to get closer over time.

Happy first of spring. We watched whales breaching of the coast and tiny white winged fairy wrens running across the sand.

We have fished and caught some bream and whiting not far from our camp and then tried another spot, close to where we got bogged, for salmon.

No luck on the salmon but we bagged some more bream and whiting.

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A nice fresh fish dinner with fried halved baby spuds, chopped onion and chilli. All washed down with a cold white while watching the fairy wrens flitting about.

The midgies here are so small that they come through the screens and manage to bite any unscreened skin they find. We have been very itchy!!!

Have seen the brolgas much closer now and there are 7 adults. Dawn has spotted 2 chicks with them.

 

Drinks with Keith and Wendy from Mandurah followed by another fish dinner and sunset with a rising new moon and evening star on dark.

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It has been warm and humid with the midgies very active.

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Never the less it has been a good week spent here in this shire run camp area which has several good camp spots and a boat ramp

 

Destination Broome

Sunday 21st August.

After re-fuelling at Willare Bridge Roadhouse for a mere $1.89/l we drove to Broome arriving at Roebuck Bay at 11.30am.

The sea was a beautiful azure blue and we set up camp and immediately had a swim at Town Beach.

The moon was just past full but still produced a staircase for us to photograph that evening.

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We extended our stay to the end of the month. Mail which Amy has forwarded had not arrived and when it finally did it had taken 12 days to get here.

On my birthday we drove across to Cable Beach and enjoyed an iced coffee, returning to Broome for a fish and chip lunch.

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p1100065 p1100083p1100076     Every day has been spent swimming and walking along the beach and rocky foreshore to Denco Estate which has lovely homes built on the old abattoir site.

 

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Explored around town with a visit to The Pearl Lugger Museum and night markets at Town Beach.p1100082

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Another visit to Cable Beach for a swim, meet the camels and to watch the sunset.

We have two new tyres on the chariot thanks to Daniel. The walls of the old ones had perished.

It has rained to end the month which is the first rain we had seen for 3 months. It was a wet pack up and when we reached Stanley Rest Area we had a chance to dry out before setting off for Cape Keraudren on the last day of August.

Continuing Westward

Wed 17th August. We broke camp at Spring River at 7.30 am and headed for Halls Creek to re-fuel. The road into The Bungle Bungles was closed due to fire to we continued west.

Rock formations on either side of the road were varied. Some were evenly layered sedimentary rocks, some fragmented and yet others smooth and weathered boulders.

Halls Creek had no Autogas and so for the first time we filled the jerry can as well as the tank. LPG has been available in a patchy manner since leaving Adelaide and there were many places where their pumps were closed as it costs more than petrol. There are no more supplies of LPG until Broome.

p1100003We reached Larrawa Station, about half way to Fitzroy Crossing, at 11.15 am.

There is a flat open camp area near the homestead with limited shade.

We managed a nice spot near 2 small gums as there were not many in the camp.

Wendy came around in the evening to meet and greet and collect camp fees.

 

 

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The next few days were spent relaxing and exploring with a one and a half hour walk to Christmas Creek and back.

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At the only small water hole we put up a large grey kangaroo.

The termite mounds here are large heaps amongst stunted scrub and spinifex.p1090989

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We also walked to a sunset viewing hill and photographed the changing colours of a rock escarpment further back on the station.

Larrawa is one and a half million acres and during our stay the owners went to a bull sale at Fitzroy Crossing and returned a couple of days later with a truck load of bulls.

 

p1100015The station supplies road workers with water for their tankers                                                                                                                                                                 and in return get their access road graded, which happened while                                                                                                                                                       we were there and gave us a smoother drive out to the highway on Saturday 20/8.

 

 

 

 

Saturday saw us at Ellendale Rest area where two of the grader teams pulled in, with their fuel truck and accommodation trailer in tow.

The sunset and Sunday’s sunrise were good ones as we set off for the run to Broome.p1100031

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Kununurra Here We Come

Tuesday 9th Aug and we crossed the WA border with no hassles at quarantine station.

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Arriving in Kununurra we got the second last site at the Lakeside Van Park where we had great water views.p1090912

It was a hot 35 deg day and after setting up and a quick shop we retired after a swim, for a good night’s sleep.

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Wed saw us driving across to Wyndham with a stop at The Grotto on the way.p1090923

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After viewing the five rivers from the lookout and a visit to the port we had lunch at a little local cafe.

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p1090931 It’s a bit rough on the bottom but when you have to go, well you have to go!!!!

 

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Stopped to photograph some of the many boab trees on the way home where we cooled off with another swim.

A visit to the hospital confirmed that Dawn had had kidney stones and that they may still be present so there will be another check up in Broome.

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We explored around Kununurra including a view over town from the lookout at Kelly’s Knob.

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Tried our hand at fishing in the lake but with no success. There are thousands of crocodiles competing with us.

After yet another swim we enjoyed roast beef and gravy rolls by the lake with others from the camp. Proceeds went to The Royal Flying Doctor.

p1090951Friday and we drove out to Emma Gorge on the start of The Gibb River road where we walked (hiked) for 1 hour into the gorge.

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p1090958It was hot going and at times quite a difficult walk over rocks and boulders.

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The spectacle of the pool at the end of the gorge and a cooling swim was great but was then followed by the hour return tramp.

We eventually arrived back at camp and collapsed on the bed for an hour. Dawn was really suffering the effects of the hike the next day, so we had a quiet morning with a little shop after lunch.

Buying wine was an exercise requiring ID and a limit on daily purchases. Buying alcohol in NT had been interesting with police and or security at every outlet, and with restricted trading hours. Here in WA’s north it was Big Brother watching with scanned IDs with each limited purchase.

After a couple of restful days we re-stocked and left Kununurra at 8am on Tue 16th August.

The drive to our next camp at Spring River Rest area took us onto the Great Northern Highway, passed the Deception and the Saw Ranges and across numerous dry creek and river beds.

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We set up camp on the lower of two areas at Spring Creek and by evening the camp was filled with fellow travellers.

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There are fires in the area.

Tomorrow we head through Halls Creek and see where the road will take us.

Headed for Broome

Wed 3 August. After a restless smoky night at Wangi Falls we were up at 6am, and on the road at 8am. Re-fuelled ourselves and the chariot at Batchelor and headed south on the Stuart Highway.

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We had a visitor in the camp

A good run saw us through Katherine and on the Victoria highway heading west. We camped overnight at Vince Connoly Crossing and met Dennis and Colleen, sharing experiences, drinks and dinner.

roadhouseA short drive on Thursday saw us at Victoria River Roadhouse camp. After setting up we drove to some local NP sites and found the gate to Coolibah where my late brother Richard used to leave his car, when working on Bradshaw Station. The next day we enjoyed a couple of local walks including down to the old bridge over the Victoria River. camp

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Our expectations of a quiet day went out the window when Dawn developed acute abdominal pain. Using the Roadhouse phone we contacted the bush nursing station at Timber Creek and the drove the 97km. A thorough examination and link up with Katherine Hospital revealed kidney stones as the culprits. After 2-3 hours the pain and nausea were under control and we drove back to Vic River dodging ‘roos and arriving at 7.30 pm.

We had roadhouse burgers for tea and will have more tests done at Kununurra  when we reach there.

Sat 6 Aug after a pain free night, we set off after brekkie and passed through Timber Creek again on our way to The Zebra Rock mine near the WA/NT border.

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Driving in to the Zebra Rock Mine nearly shook us to bits and we lost about 2m of waste water pipe and fittings from under the van. We set up in a bush camp setting after a warm welcome from the owners and staff.

gallery-1Sunday was a cool morning but with a brilliant sunrise. We looked through the camp gallery at all the Zebra Rock items and local history. Had a walk and fossick along a creek bed and had dinner under a fly net to try and avoid the ever present little black fellas. We are eating or freezing food that will not pass border quarantine in a few days time.

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Monday we walked the perimeter of the camp and between 4pm and 8 pm went on the Sunset Safari which was excellent. There were crocodiles everywhere and many birds, including jabiru and cape baron geese. The sunset over Lake Argyle was a beauty and after wine and nibbles on the bank of a creek we returned in the dark to a hot meal of fresh fish and chips a la Zebra Rock Mine.p1090803p1090796p1090868p1090890p1090893

 

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Farewell to Darwin

I wrote these notes in Kununurra, our first time with web coverage since leaving Darwin. They have remained unpublished due to weak connections since then.
Sunday July 31st saw us packed up and hitched by 9 am. We were unable to awaken Krystal and Chris, our house sit owners, to say goodbye, so we hit the road for Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park. Very grateful to have good steering again in the chariot.
We stopped at Batchelor for a banana and iced coffee arriving at Wangi at 11.30 am. Filled out our check in envelope and set up in a nice partly shaded site which was one of only 5 left in the camping area.
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After lunch and an ice block from the NP café we joined the throng in the pool below the waterfalls. What a beautiful spot with clear cool water. With the aid of our trusty noodles we swam out to under the falls. On a 35 deg afternoon it was very refreshing.
The birdlife was abundant and we saw and heard many different species including an owl. Our other camp visitors were a couple of wallabies, one with a tiny joey on board.P1090693
Mon August 1st. The camp is nice and quiet and we had a good sleep and looked forward to the day’s walks and swim.

The treetop and loop walk up and across Wangi Creek above the falls saw us each in a lather of sweat when we returned after an hour or so walking. There was a lot of smoke and one of the NP walks was closed due to wildfires in the area.
We took a run out to Tolmer Falls which drop into a large inaccessible plunge pool. On our return the fire had reached the road. A motorhome ahead of us was forced to almost stop as a variety of raptors were swooping onto the road selecting dinner from the smorgasbord of small creatures fleeing across the road.

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Tuesday August 2nd we drove to Florence Falls lookout for a great view of the twin falls and plunge pool below.

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A refreshing dip followed at Buley Rockhole which is series of rock pools linked by small waterfalls decending down the creek.

magnetic-termite-moundOn the way back to camp passed the magnetic termite mounds we turned into a 4wd track leading to The Lost City, an area of rock formations resembling deserted buildings. After 8km on the 10 km drive we met a driver coming out who had been turned back by the ranger who was clearing the area as the track would be cut that day by another fire. We bumped our way out again and after lunch at Wangi camp enjoyed a final swim under the falls. Another wallaby visited for a while in the evening and enjoyed some dry leaves close to us.
It was a cloudy, smoky and warm night as we anxiously anticipated our drive out to the main highway the next day.