25th May 2017–Broome Day Four

Distance: 22 km
Fuel: 45 L

Wash Day! After my shower I straight away got all my laundry washed and on the line. There will be no chance tomorrow and I leave on Saturday so it had to be done.

Once it was on the line I took a drive to the  northern end of Cable Beach. There are a number of top class resorts in the area. There is no doubt that the beach is very nice as are the facilities at the back of the beach. It seems to cater mainly for people that fly in on a package holiday though there is one caravan park relatively near by.

170525 006 Cable Beach170525 008 Cable Beach

An interesting bronze on the Cable Beach seafront commemorated Lord McAlpine the British builder being made a Freeman of Broome.

170525 001 Cable Beach170525 002 Cable Beach

Drove to Chinatown for a late lunch where I ended up at Bluey’s Fish and Chips – Oh well… it was nice fish.

Had a final drive round Broome before filling up with fuel. It is a town I am getting to know by now, afterwards I returned to the caravan park to get my washing in and for a swim in the pool. BTW it is a very nice pool but about 1.4m in depth all over, certainly not suitable for non swimming children. It has a lap section and a large general area, there are only steps in two places. I have splashed about in it most afternoons since I arrived as it is rarely used and I have it all to myself most of the time.

24th May 2017–Broome Day Three

Distance: 30 km

My temperature estimates yesterday were a bit off – Day 32’C Night 19’C.is more like it.

This morning I was shocked to see clouds so I took a picture of them.

Smile

170524 002 Broome Cloud

Went to the Visitors Centre this morning to book a cruise if one was available for today. I was lucky and booked a sunset cruise on Roebuck Bay. They would pick me up at 1.40pm at the Visitors Centre.

As it was only 9.30am I had plenty of time to do other things. I returned to Chinatown for a coffee and time to plan the rest of the day.

170524 007 Broome170524 009 Broome Star Cinema

The Sun Picture Gardens is an open air cinema, the oldest in the world, built in 1913. It is still in almost original condition.

Next up was a visit to Broome Museum because it had a display about the pearling industry and the attack on Broome in WWII. Normally I avoid small town museums because they tend to be just like visiting my Grandmother’s or Great Aunts’ houses but as country museums go this one was quite interesting.

170524 020 Broome Museum170524 011 Broome Museum170524 013 Broome Museum170524 016 Broome Museum170524 017 Broome Museum170524 019 Broome Museum

After the museum I had a look at the Pioneer Cemetery and Town Beach complete with mangroves.

170524 023 BroomeTown Beach & Cemetery170524 024 BroomeTown Beach & Cemetery170524 028 BroomeTown Beach & Cemetery

In a day when one cemetery is never enough I also visited the Japanese and Chinese cemeteries. One thing I learned at the Broome museum was why there are so many Japanese and their descendants in Broome – it is all to do with pearling – the White Australia Policy and the notorious English test was not applied to Japanese pearl divers however they and their Australian born descendants were all interned during WWII.

170524 030 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 033 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 034 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 036 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries

Zoomed back to Chinatown for lunch I thought there was a Thai restaurant there but I must have seen it somewhere else (I’ll find it tomorrow). I could only find one Chinese restaurant among all the cafes and bars so I had lunch there – to be fair after I had eaten and was leaving the area I saw at least two others.

170524 041 Broome

Went back to the caravan park for a shower before the cruise. At the back of my camper was a lizard – he scuttled up a tree.

170524 045 Broome Lizard

I was only waiting at the Visitors Centre for five minutes before the cruise bus arrived. We picked up the rest of the passengers before driving onto the beach next to the wharf. A launch came from the boat to pick us up.

170524 048 Broome Sunset Cruise

…and drove right up the beach.

170524 049 Broome Sunset Cruise

I’d never seen anything like it but the bloke reckoned he bought it ten years ago.

The cruise was quite interesting (in my opinion all cruises I have ever been on go on far too long. Water can only hold my interest for so long). We did see plenty of Snubfin Dolphins, some Flatback Turtles, a Hammerhead shark, a Dugong and some fish – the first photo is Batwing Fish (or something like that). I have lots of photos of empty water but these are a few with something visible.

170524 058 Broome Sunset Cruise170524 088 Broome Sunset Cruise

170524 098 Broome Sunset Cruise

170524 095 Broome Sunset Cruise

The turtles, shark and dugong got away.

170524 147 Broome Sunset Cruise170524 158 Broome Sunset Cruise

It was a sunset cruise…

23rd May 2017–Broome Day Two

Distance: 26 km

Not the most exciting day of my life. Took my car into the Isuzu Service agents in Broome at 8am for its 40000km service. I had been warned last time that this was a major service with all oils and filters changed together with major inspection.

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I asked the manager how long the service would take and was told they’d need the car for at least six hours but that they would drive me to and from my accommodation. This they did but from 8.30am until they picked me up at about 3pm I was stuck in the caravan park either reading or drinking tea – it was a slow day.

Finally they called to say that my car was ready, while I waited to be picked up a small (ish) goanna scuttled past – perhaps a metre long over all.

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Once I had my car back I drove to one of the two shopping centres (this one on the edge of Chinatown) where I had a hair and beard trim (“Put #1 spacer on your clippers and cut everything above the shoulders”). Felt so much better after that – must remember to take my clippers next time. The young fella that cut my hair was a pommie and kept asking me about how and when I came to Australia

Afterward I strolled around the centre then bought a 6 pack before returning to the caravan park with a six inch Subway Teriyaki Chicken Roll. Wolfed it down with a couple of beers so the day ended OK.

The temperature in Broome has been quite pleasant – about 31”C during the day with fairly low humidity and down to 14/15”C at night. Still not a cloud in the sky and a gentle breeze taking the edge off the heat; a very bearable climate at this time of year.

22nd May 2017–Broome Day One

Distance : 53 km

Went into Broome first thing to check out the Visitor Information Centre – arrived just after 8 am but it didn’t open until 8.30. As luck(?) would have it I had run out of breakfast cereal yesterday so while I waited I visited the McDonalds’ opposite for breakfast. First Macca’s I have had since gawd knows when, they haven’t improved in my absence but I had my free seniors coffee with a bacon and egg McMuffin.

Returning to the Visitor’s Centre I asked about visiting the Horizontal Falls something I have wanted to do since I heard about it on  Senior’s Holiday a few years ago. I knew it was expensive but what I hadn’t counted on was a cruise ship visiting Broome! The only chance was Friday so I booked – they pick me up at 5.15am

Went for a look around Chinatown and was surprised at the number of people there considering how empty the caravan park is but of course it was the cruise liner passengers but just in case I rushed back to the caravan park to make sure I had a site until Saturday morning, all was well, the park still only has less than a dozen visitors.

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Returned to the town centre to look at Cable Beach and the port where a P&O Cruise liner was berthed.

170522 004 Broome170522 005 Broome170522 018 Broome Port and Town Beach

There can’t be a slipway in Broome because people were launching their tinnies from the beach.

It was late lunchtime by now and I found myself at the Wharf Restaurant which is supposedly famous for its seafood. I decided to try a medium grilled barramundi. It was OK but frankly no better than one I have had at Dapto Leagues Club and it was probably only half the size. However it was pleasant enough eating while looking over Town Beach and watching the coaches ferrying the cruise passengers back and forth.170522 021 Broome Port and Town Beach

170522 022 Broome Port and Town Beach

Did a bit of shopping to replenish supplies especially breakfast cereal and bought a $5 towel from Target. I wouldn’t have thought it but a spare towel is actually a good idea.

Late afternoon returned to caravan park where I had a swim in the pool and a shower. Good relaxing day, ended up watching the local wildlife eating the park’s new grass.

170522 028 Broome Caravan Park

21st May 2017–Sandfire to Broome

Distance: 319 km

The worst day of driving of the trip. I kept falling asleep. In the end I virtually had to stop at every parking bay, get out and walk around. Can’t understand it, I had a really good sleep last night yet I seemed to be constantly fighting to stay awake.

Stopped at the Roebuck Roadhouse just over 30km from Broome for something to eat (two sausages and two kebabs) and a coffee before continuing on to the Broome Caravan Park. The lady in charge looked at my camper asked what power I used when I told here just a kettle and TV she booked me in as a camping powered site for $22 a night (I like Broome already). Not many people in the park.

170521 001 Broome Caravan Park

Set up my camp, discovered I was dying of thirst so had two cups of tea, then went for a swim in the pool.

It is a calendar month since I set out – just noticed that fuel and accommodation costs are running neck and neck at around $1000 each and that I have driven nearly 9500km since leaving home.

20th May 2017–Port Headland to Sandfire

Distance: 293.2 km
Fuel: 30 L

Went for an early morning walk to an “attraction” nearby called, ‘Staircase to the Moon Lookout’. It was quite a nice view but as it was billed as one of Port Hedland’s tourist hotspots I felt the day would definitely be better spent getting closer to Broome.

170520 005 Port Hedland Staircase to the Moon

The caravan park was an outrageous $42 for a pretty average powered site but looking at the washing lines I suspect they can charge so much because the accommodation is sought after by the local workers (FIFO?) – the washing lines were 50% boiler suits and hi-vis shirts. Anyway, I wrote that money off.

170520 006 Port Hedland

One thing I must say about Port Hedland; industry is busy – from the caravan park in the distance you could see the railway line to the port. Every few minutes an incredibly long train arrived with full wagons of ore while on another line even longer trains were being made up of empty wagons presumably to return to the mines. I mentioned the road trains I encountered yesterday I overtook about a dozen but they were only travelling 10kph slower than me so presumably there were ore carrying road trains every few minutes along the road. The airport had several commercial jets in and out morning and evening.

People have to be doing something they are not on the street, when was in the town centre yesterday (Friday) you could have fired a cannon down the main street with no fear of hurting anybody.

Back to today’s journey:

The first part of the trip was shared with many road trains but they thinned out after the Marble Bar turn off. I was tempted to visit Marble Bar but a nearly 400km round side trip seemed a bit excessive. I am planning to do a similar journey through WA in the future but staying away from the coast to take in Mt Magnet, Newman and Marble Bar so it can wait.

The scenery varied from rugged low hills to flat scrub.

170520 032 Sandfire Roadhouse

As I type this in the late afternoon I am surrounded by poultry, there are chickens, geese and a large number of peacocks and peahens of various ages. In the paddock next to the caravan park part of the roadhouse is a Brahman bull and a camel.

170520 031 Sandfire Roadhouse170520 023 Sandfire Roadhouse170520 026 Sandfire Roadhouse170520 033 Sandfire Roadhouse

I was amazed that the powered site at the roadhouse was only $20 (they make it up by charging $1.59 a litre for diesel). Anyway, time for a beer or two after another day of perfect weather – I hope Queensland sorts its weather out before I get there.

19th May 2017–Tom Price to Port Hedland

Distance: 442 km
Fuel: 40 L

Not a bad drive, the first 50km or so was a repeat of the journey to Karijini but once on the Great Northern Highway it was all new.

Stopped a few times to take in the scenery and a break from driving.

170519 001 Tom Price Truck170519 005 Hammersley Range170519 007 Hammersley Range170519 009 Hammersley Range170519 010 Hammersley Range170519 017 Hammersley Range170519 023 Albert Tognolini Lookout170519 026 Albert Tognolini Lookout170519 030 Albert Tognolini Lookout170519 034 Albert Tognolini Lookout

Such old country, beautiful, eroded hills before eventually getting onto the flat coastal plains.

I have never seen so many road trains, overtook dozens and passed dozens more going back to the many mines. Apart from the odd one carrying demountable housing or general goods they were mostly four trailer ore carriers.

I disliked Port Hedland on sight. Funny how some towns appeal to you, Port Hedland is not one of them. Went to the Visitors Centre where,apart from the inevitable town map, they have nothing… no brochure, no self guided walks or tours – you have to wonder the centre’s purpose. Went to the harbour, purely industrial – exporting ore to China.

170519 042 Port Hedland

Ended up going to a cafe for sandwich and coffee before returning to the caravan park. Have no idea what I am going to do tomorrow because there appears to be little here. I am booked in for two nights but might leave tomorrow and break the journey to Broome (over 600km) into two parts.

18th May 2017–Rambling.

Distance: 10 km
Fuel: 29 L

Had a day off! It was a chance to get the doona covers, pillow cases and odd items of clothing washed, plan the rest of my journey in WA and think about how I am going to go through Queensland. Because there will be no adventures or sights to cover I will just ramble on about this and that.

But first… What did I do today?

Visited Tom Price’s Coles fairly early this morning to get ice and milk but I needed to go again later when the grog shop was open to top up with another six pack and also buy fuel at the service station for tomorrow.

One thing is for sure; if I do nothing else when I get back home it will be to install a fridge freezer and battery system in the back of my car because even at the local Coles ice is $6.50 a bag.

By the time I returned to the caravan park people were packing up their vans, I am not surprised that women live longer than men. Inspite of the blokes often having much worse mobility issues than me they always dismantled the various connections, rolled up the awning, carried the dunny can to the dump station and connected the caravan with all its anti roll paraphernalia to the car without any help from their wife (and I mean absolutely no help at all). It appears that, from my observation, equality of the sexes is alien to caravan life among the grey nomads. BTW, almost within the hour of writing that a couple in their late 30s or early 40s arrived and set up their camper trailer, the lady was as involved as the man in its set up so it must just be an age thing.

Last night I watched the latest version of “The Magnificent Seven”, it wasn’t bad but I hope that no-one gets it into their head to remake “High Noon” or “Casablanca” because the original was still better. I warned you I would ramble.

Good and Bad

OK, now that I have been living in my camper continuously for four weeks I am getting a handle on its good points and its bad.

The Good:
  • The bed  is really comfortable; my thick doona, thin doona and sheet selection works well. I sleep well – never too hot or too cold.
  • The camper is easy to tow, easy to set up and easy to prepare to move. The reversing camera makes a big difference to hitching it up unaided. Caravans, mobile homes, camper trailers all have different disadvantages, there is no perfect set up.
  • The Bunning’s table and white plastic chair are a good combination I never get the folding camping chair out now.
  • The $10 toaster was a great buy. The combination of toaster, electric jug and microwave is all I need, never get the gas stove out (obviously that would change if there was no powered site available)
  • Having the HDD with movies and TV shows was a good idea because by about 9.30/10pm just about everybody in these parks is asleep however what does surprise me is that they are not early risers – I shower when the sun comes up – rarely see more than one other person about.
  • Sunrice microwave meals are brilliant when there is no club or bistro nearby – they only take about 90 seconds to cook. After the disaster of trying to carry eggs I have decided that preparing food is just too much trouble.170518 007 Sunrice Meals
  • The cheese, jam and peanut butter I carry are handy for sandwiches/toast. (Bleeding obvious really)
  • Paper plates, disposable spoons etc save a lot of washing up (I didn’t say I was ecologically sound).
  • The gazebo is really good too as is the side sheet I bought for it but if I am only staying one night I don’t bother putting it up. One thing I try to remember is to take it down the evening before I move on. Ideally I do it as the sun is about to set – ie just before it gets dark. It makes preparing to leave in the morning so much easier if it is already packed away
The Bad.
  • The Esky – Bad, bad, bad! The bane of my life. As that is the worst thing you can see that life is pretty good really.
  • The camper  really needs a vent to allow air in for the roof vent fan to extract when the glass outer doors are closed (say for rain). This hasn’t been a problem on this trip but it could be.
  • I haven’t used any of my pots, pans or rice cooker, it is too easy to go out for a meal or have a pre-prepared one, toast or a sandwich.

Things I just don’t get.

There is nothing wrong with these things it is just that I don’t understand them.

  • I am surprised by the number of people who have said to me something along the lines of, “We are staying here for another 11 days then we are having a fortnight in XXX”. What on earth do they do for all this time? I can understand if you have kids then longer in one place is probably better but 10 days? a fortnight? When I was a kid we used to go for a week at a guesthouse (B&B?) but by the end of the week you had exhausted the charms of the place, in fact, even a week at Butlins was enough.
  • The couple next to me moved this morning, I asked them where they were going. It turns out they are going to the caravan park in the National Park I visited yesterday. I wonder why? it is 50km away, you can drive there in 30 minutes without lugging a ruddy great caravan with you. As I say I don’t get it.
  • Car cleaning: some people of all ages seem obsessed with cleaning their car and/or caravan. Remember I mentioned a terrific van that fitted on the back of a flat bed ute? As the fellow was preparing it his wife was wiping every external surface she could reach, as he lowered it onto the ute she was busily cleaning the jacks even as they retracted. Another fellow after spending an hour washing and polishing his car then cleaned his off road caravan’s wheels and tyre blacked all the tyres (I mean, he carried tyre black with him on holiday??) – Yes, I know this says more about me than them, I have had my car for two years and cleaned it twice.

That’s it; all my raving has finished.

17th May 2017–Karijini National Park

Distance: 295 km

Spend the day in Karijini National Park – the road was open. I would have been majorly surprised if it hadn’t been; I haven’t seen a cloud for a week.

170517 002 Karijini National Park

There was an entrance fee but basically it was an honesty system.

170517 016 Karijini National Park170517 017 Karijini National Park

After that it was just a question of finding interesting things to look at – there was plenty (well, I thought so).

170517 019 Karijini National Park170517 023 Karijini National Park Joffre Falls170517 026 Karijini National Park Joffre Falls170517 033 Karijini National Park170517 036 Karijini National Park170517 037 Karijini National Park170517 040 Karijini National Park170517 043 Karijini National Park170517 050 Karijini National Park Fortesque Falls170517 052 Karijini National Park Fortesque Falls170517 055 Karijini National Park Fortesque Falls170517 058 Karijini National Park Circular Pool170517 067 Karijini National Park Circular Pool

170517 074 Karijini National Park

One thing you can’t forget is that only a few km away is the notorious town of Wittenoom. The Hamersley Ranges is where asbestos occurs naturally.

170517 046 Karijini National Park

16th May 2017 – Onslow to Tom Price

Distance: 489 km
Fuel: 53 L

One of the things I like about this camper is how easy it is to pack up when you need to leave a site – literally the biggest job is dismantling the TV aerial. I had a fair distance to travel today so I was ready  to move just after 8am.

The first part of the trip was retracing my steps south for 100km before turning off toward the Hamersley Range and Tom Price the mining town. It was nice to get away from the flat coastal plains.

170516 001 Hamersley Range170516 003 Hamersley Range170516 005 Hamersley Range170516 010 Hamersley Range170516 011 Paraburdoo

I was soon set up at the Tom Price Tourist Park. Even got some laundry done.

170516 020 Tom Price