Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Broome - The first time

We were super excited to get to Broome, it was time for some touristing, shopping & organising.  We booked a caravan park because we were told we would have trouble getting a spot if we just turned up, so we booked into Tarangua Caravan Park. It turned out to be not that busy, but it was a nice park with good sized shady sites, good amenities and good service.  It was $36 a night for a powered site & we stayed for 6 nights, we wanted to see Broome before it got to busy. Again we were grouped with the other real campers in trailers, tents and bongo buses. Mostly we had good neighbours including some other young couples fro Emu Park and Mackay, funny how it works out, we had barely seen any other travellers the same age as us, and this time we had 2 other couples that live within 300km of us. We had some very noisy loud Italian backpackers for a couple of nights, there was 4 of them in a Toyota Camry and all they had was on tiny pup tent between them. They talked loudly but the worst thing was the fact that they locked and unlocked their car 5000 times a night with all the associated light flashing and beeping, every time they moved more than a step away from their car, we got over that pretty quickly!! They also all had matching short bathrobes that they wore around at night aftertheir  showers, memorable....

After we set up camp on the first day, we soon hit the showers, put on some non-bush clothes & went to check out the sites of Broome.  We did a bit of a drive around and then parked in the town centre at China Town. We were amazed at the sheer number of pearl shops, I would check them out later! It was soon time for lunch, so we found a pub the Roey (Roebuck Hotel) and had an awesome burger and beer. After lunch we had a bit more of a wander through town, but it was pretty hot & we were buggered, so we headed back to camp for a quiet night. 

Day two was more of the same, looking around town, lunch at the famous Matso's Brewery, a walk on Cable Beach for sunset and dinner out at a beachfront restaurant on Cable Beach, a short walk home to the caravan park and it was a great day. 

Day 3 in Broome was pretty great too! We went to the courthouse markets in the morning & these were really good, a great mix of awesome food, arty & crafty bits and pieces and fresh fruit & veggies. After those we went for a browse in the shops in town & I even got to browse a few Pearl shops, no purchases yet though! After a quick lunch we journeyed the 30km out of town to Malcolm Douglas Croc park, Malcolm was one of Mat's idols so we just had to visit.  It cost $35 per adult but was only open from 2-5pm with a croc feeding at 3pm. The whole park was really great & the croc feeding was really good. We got to hold a baby croc, they then fed a pen of 70 big crocs & then we walked around the park & they fed the really big crocs.  There were birds & marsupials & it was a great relaxed park. We really enjoyed it. Broome is expensive for everything, but we felt we got value for money at the croc park.

The next day we went for a drive up towards Cape Leveque to check out some of the free campsites just out of town, ready for our next visit after we finish in the Kimberley.  We had a look between Willie Creek pearl farm up to James Price Point including Quondong Point, there were some great campsites, but it was really busy already.  We first hit the coast at a place between Willie Creek and Barred Creek, we came towards the beach and noticed there was one camper already out there, as we came towards his camp, he wandered around his site, completely naked! Seriously, we seem to be attracting the naked people! We drove off without stopping, it reminded me of that BCF ad on TV where the guys crank the music and look dodgy, may be this guy was doing the same thing to keep other campers away! 

It was a good day trip & was good to check out if we would get our trailer in which we would easily. A late lunch at the pub, followed by some meat shopping so we could get it frozen on 240V power and that rounded out our day.  We had two more days in Broome which were pretty much just organising our selves for our trip on the Gibb River Road, where we are planning to take about a month to complete & also go up to Kalumburu, so some serious food & beer shopping had to be done. 

Broome was a great stop, we are glad we did it while it wasn't too busy & the camping was a bit cheaper because it was outside of peak season.  It was pretty hot during our stay so they reckon that is why Broome was a bit quieter than normal, we were happy to take it not being busy!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Barn Hill Station

It took us just under 3 hours to get from the 80 Mile beach park into Barn Hill Station. The road into Barn Hill was pretty average, it didn't worry us in Ruby, but the caravaner's were whinging!! We had decide before we arrived we would get an unpowered site for our stay it was $22 a night.  The unpowered area was much more spread out & we got a great site right on the water away from any neighbours.  The view from our site was just spectacular, we were perched on a red cliff top, looking down at beautiful blue water. We set up our site including the big awning again.  It was really hot, so we took it easy for a few hours and then when it had cooled down we went for a walk on the beach, another great coastline. They have a boat ramp & also stairs that access the beach and we also found a bit of a goat track to get down to the other beach near our campsite. 

It was a lovely spot to watch the sunset over the water. The next day we went for a long walk down the other end of the beach up from our campsite, not sure how far it was but it was almost a 3 hour return walk and we had the beach to ourselves, magic. Mat went for fish in the afternoon, with a few good bites, but no hook ups.  Others on the beach got some good trevally, whiting & even a queenie. 

It was really hot while we were at Barn Hill so during the middle of the day we just read a book & stayed in the shade, until it cooled down.  They have a small shop that does milk, frozen bread, bait and ice creams, which is handy. They do have powered sites but they are on restricted power, so the caravans can't run their air conditioners!! We are glad we went unpowered as the sites are much bigger & spread out.  They have a laundry & the amenities are very basic, but clean.  The generator runs at night but is a fair way away & isn't too annoying. 

We were going to spend 4 nights at Barn Hill but only ended up staying for 3, 2 would probably have been enough.  If we hadn't just been at Pardoo & 80 Mile Beach we would of stayed longer, but by then we were ready to hit Broome & start our Kimberley adventure.

Powered sites

Beach access

Unpowered sites shower & toilet block 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

80 Mile Beach

We left Pardoo station & continued further north up the Great Northern Highway to 80 Mile Beach caravan park. Unfortunately there is no free camping along this stretch so the caravan parks & stations have the monopoly. Unless you go into one of these places, you barely sight the ocean except for a few tiny glimpses as you head along the coast. 

It was only just over a 100km away so we arrived just after 10am. The price here per night is $41 for a powered site, the most expensive we have encountered so far. In hindsight we should of asked for unpowered although it was still $35. We booked in for 4 nights & made our way to our spot. It was okay, a reasonable size, dead grass, excellent amenities, but not fantastic. We set up camp including the big awning again, we managed to not have to detach it after Pardoo, so it was a bit quicker & once completed we hastily made our way down to the beach to check it out. The park is set back on a large flat section behind a sand dune, but a quick walk over the dune & again we were confronted by the bluest water & white sandy beaches, it was spectacular. 

We walked down along the beach to an older couple fishing (who turned out to be our lovely neighbours) they had caught a couple of blue salmon, but a huge shark had come along & was swimming in the shallows right at their feet, we watched the shark swim around for a few minutes, his body half out of the water at times, he was in so shallow, there went any ideas of a swim! The tide had just started to go back out again & all the locals left the beach so we figured there wasn't much point fishing that afternoon. 

Over the next 3 days we spent the days fishing, collecting shells, walking on the beach & watching the sunset over the water each afternoon. We had a good time, but it was too caravan parky for us (it even had its own markets twice a week & impromptu sing alongs for charity).  It was full of grey nomads that stay for 1-4 months at a time, who bring their own fully decked out fishing quad bikes. It also had its own version of coast watch (a posy of old men that are concerned about illegal immigrants landing on this stretch of beach, so they monitor the beaches all while doing a fair bit of fishing)!

If you love fishing, 80 Mile Beach is definitely worth a visit. About an hour & a half either side of high tide & the beach is packed with anglers with no real fishing etiquette. One minute you are nicely spaced out between yourself & the next fisherman & a second later another 3 people have pushed in to throw in their line, this is all on a 400-500m stretch of beach. This once again proved to us that our fellow humans have no real common sense or care for others around them. This was confirmed again each day at sunset. Lots of people would go down to the beach for a drink to watch the sunset & take photos. On day 1 it was a quad bike, day 2 a lady collecting shells & day 3 a pram that were centre stage in everyone's photos! Again how inconsiderate people are has really annoyed us on this trip. 

80 Mile Beach is a beautiful stretch of coastline & worth seeing. In hindsight 2-3 nights would of been enough for us. It is expensive to camp, but does have good facilities. Worth a look. 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Pardoo Station

So after our interesting time at De Grey campsite the next stop was Pardoo Station. We had heard from other travellers it was worth doing, so when we got some phone reception we did a quick google search on it & it sounded pretty good, but expensive at $35 a night for a powered site, they do not offer unpowered. It wasn't very far up the highway to the turn off & the dirt road in was pretty well maintained. We turned up to a large area with various buildings & lots of green grass. We booked for 3 nights initially & made our way out to the campground, which was surrounding the homestead. It was a find your own spot, which we prefer instead of being allocated & it was maybe 20% full at most, even better! We found some nice shady sites with lots of green grass which was a nice change. We found one that was pretty good a few sites away from anyone else on each side which was good. We set up camp & decided it was time to finally put up the big awning as well. It had been a while, but we must be getting used to working with each other, cause it went up pretty easily! We are sure glad we put it up as we were getting lots of 35-36 degree days. There are also lots of new campsites where they are expanding the size of the campground, these all have lovely green grass, but the trees are still small so not much shade. There are heaps of amenity blocks, laundry, shop, restaurant, car wash down pad (we finally got to give the trailer a wash), air compressor for tyres, a filtered water point to fill up with drinking water & the pool. They have thought of everything, a cracker of a campsite for a station stay. 

After some lunch we went for a drive to check out the fishing spots, there are 3 creeks & a fair bit of beach that you can fish at. The first creek, Pardoo creek had a boat ramp & looked good, but at the time we went the tide was out & we could see how steep the banks were & how deep it was, looked great for a fish. We then made our way to the beach to a spot called Red Point, we couldn't believe how far out the tide was, we could barely see the water at all, and all that confronted us was mud flat, we weren't sure we would be able to fish the beach, we would have to see how the tides went. 
Red point at low tide the water a long way off in the distance

 We made our way further along the track and came across a natural spring that was surrounded by bird life & even at Jaibaru, that quickly exited before I could get a decent photo.  We found the track to Bake Bean creek & started on it across the mud flat, but it soon turned to being a bit to wet underneath and we turned around. The station has a $1000 call out fee if you get bogged. We came back to the main track and made our way towards Banningara creek, we found another awesome creek, with lots of water flow, again it was pretty low, but looked promising.  So we made our way back to camp, made use of the awesome showers, had some dinner and called it a night, ready for a day of fishing the next day.

Banningara creek with about half tide

On the second day we went straight to Banningara creek for a fish. Wow what a difference the tide makes, it was now filled with beautiful blue green water. We chucked in the lines & got bites straight away, it wasn't long & Mat had caught a handy sized Bream, by the end of the morning Mat had another and I had one too, so plenty for tea (see the Bream & Noodles post). We made our way back to camp about lunchtime as it was getting hot & the tide was going out. We spent the afternoon swimming in the pool (a bit of a novelty for us, & it was lovely), & read a book & drank a few beers. We also had a chat to one of the guys that was fishing near us & he was leaving the next day & found out we didn't have any crab pots & offered for Mat to buy one off him for $10, bargain!! He also gave us his left over bait for free. One of the really nice people we have met on our trip. 

Banningara creek at high tide

The next day we tried the creek near the boat ramp, again what a difference the tide makes! It was about an hour before high & looked promising, we chucked in the lines & also our newly acquired crab pot. We got some bites, but mostly just little stuff, some cod & catfish. Mat kept getting a constant weight on his line & reeled it in with a mud crab about 4 times but each time they let go as they saw me with the bucket at the waters edge, damn! We checked the crab pot & managed to get a legal crab but it wasn't huge, we chucked him in the bucket to see if we could get some more. I also got one on my fishing line & reeled it in & it was the biggest crab I have ever seen, but again we couldn't get him in the bucket. By the end of the morning we didn't get any decent fish, but got 3 crabs, so we had caught enough for dinner (see the Chilli Mud Crab post). Back to camp for lunch & it was more of the same, swimming & drinking & then the awesome crab cook up. We also talked to some of the locals who stay for 3-4 months at a time & they told us the tides would start to get good for beach fishing in the next few days. We extended our stay for another 2 nights. 

Pardoo creek at the boat ramp at high tide

The next day we started at the boat ramp creek & not much was happening, so we thought we would head up to Banningara creek, by the time we got to it, the tide had come in enough to cut off the track in, so we were pretty lucky we didn't decide to start there or we would of got stuck waiting for the tide to go out & then would of had to drive through the salty mud. We went back along the beach to one of the other beach access tracks & out into the beach. The water was up further than we had previously seen but was still out a fair way, so we had to walk out a fair way & it was pretty shallow, we got a few bites but didn't hook up.  Fairly soon the tide was going out to far, making trying to fish pointless so we headed back to camp. Apparently the tides would be perfect for a beach fish the next day. 

Mat beach fishing (zoomed in on the camera)

Mat beach fishing (zoomed out on the camera, he is just a speck in the middle)

When we returned to camp we found we had neighbours, camped right beside us on either side, despite there being plenty of room in the campground, great. We don't really understand why campers want to camp all over the top of each other, they turn up in their caravans in huge set ups, with TVs blaring & think they own the place. We would confirm our thoughts that people are really inconsiderate both here & at our next campsite & reiterates our tendency to stay away from caravan parks when possible. We have also reached the point where a lot of people seem to have lost their inhibitions. We had one older female neighbour that seemed to have no problem wearing her one piece bathing suit only around the campsite all day long. Yes she went swimming, but also did her washing, watered the lawn, went fishing, made numerous trips to the toilet block all whilst only wearing her swimmers. Now I don't know about you, but I can't really see this being acceptable for anyone past about the age of 10 or so. I still remember the days when board shorts were invited, what a glorious day no more worries & you could cover up a bit. Well it seems not all the population embraces them or even may be a sarong, or even better just wearing clothes when you aren't swimming??? Anyway........

So the next day we got ready for beach fishing along with half the campground, and headed back out to Red Point. Red Point has some rocks that allow you to fish off them & this is where the other fishers had set up, we went down in front of the rocks as the tide was still coming in & had a fish there. We saw the people on the rocks catch a decent blue salmon, so we knew we had a chance. Well I barely got a bite & was getting bored, but Mat had an awesome morning fishing with a big thread fin salmon & 2 blue salmon. The best fishing day he has had for ages he reckons, me on the the hand not so much! We then had our last night at Pardoo station, tucking into our freshly caught fish, before hitting the road to 80 Mile Beach the next morning. 

Red point above & below

Good sized thread fin salmon

The days catch. 

We really enjoyed our stay at Pardoo Station & had a great time. I really can't imagine owning a property like it.  To own that stretch of coastline must feel pretty amazing.  So thanks to the owners of Pardoo for opening up you're little piece of paradise to us.

Jaibaru at the natural spring, the closest I could get to him

Friday, 16 May 2014

Camping Cheesecake - Cherry Ripe

We have been eating pretty healthily so far on our trip, but sometimes you just feel like something sweet. Normally I would make some dessert in the camp oven, but there have been so many places we can't have a fire. So I thought what could I make with limited ingredients that would satisfy that sweet craving? I decided to try a really simple cheesecake. It ended up only having 4 ingredients, it was supposed to have 5 but it seems may be I need glasses as I picked up the garlic & parsley sour cream instead of the plain one!!

Cherry Ripe Cheesecake

Makes 2 small cheesecakes in small pie tins

- 10 Anzac biscuits crushed
- 2 tablespoons of butter melted 
- 1/2 a family block of chocolate melted (I used cherry ripe)
- 1 tub of spreadable cream cheese (I used low fat)

- line your pie tins with glad wrap. 
- combine the crushed biscuits & melted butter & line the bottom of the tins, pressing it in.  

- melt the chocolate, allow to cool slightly & then stir through the cream cheese. 
- spoon chocolate cheese mix onto the biscuit base. 

- cover in more glad wrap & put in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours. 
- remove glad wrap & remove from tins & serve. 

Sorry for the average photo, it was taken at night with my iPhone. You can just see the cherry ripe chunks in it, yum!

- I was going to make 4 cheesecakes so made enough biscuit base for 4 originally. 
- I was going to add a small tub of sour cream to the chocolate & cream cheese mix but I bought the wrong kind so didn't end up with enough mix for 4 cheesecakes. 
- I put the extra biscuit base on top of the cheesecake, making it more like a slice. 
- you could use any type of chocolate you like. 
- I used dark (cherry ripe) & would probably next time add a tablespoon of sugar to the cheese mix to make it slightly sweeter, if you used milk or white chocolate I don't think you wound need the sugar. 
- you could use any type of biscuits crushed for the base. 

These turned out really great considering they only had 4 ingredients. We ended up cutting each one in half to share as it was pretty rich. I will definitely make this again & experiment with chocolate flavours, the possibilities are endless, yum!!!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Chilli Mud Crabs

Pardoo station delivered once again & we managed to get a feed of 3 mud crabs, enough to do Chilli Crabs, yum!! We have caught a few over the years in Rockhampton but usually just boil them up & have them with some lemon & fresh bread & butter. I am a bit of a cooking show fan so had seen quiet a few versions of chilli mud crab cooked. But as we are camping we had to make do with what we had in the food box. So here's what I came up with & it was delicious. The sauce was a nice balance of sweet, salty, sour & hot. It definitely needed a beer with the finished product as it was spicy. 

Chill Mud Crab

- 1 condensed tomato soup liquid cup of soup satchet (I had Heinz big red)
- 1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
- 2 tablespoons of white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon of all purpose seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/4 of a finely diced red onion
- 1 garlic clove finely minced
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1-2 cups of water

- mud crabs
- rice to serve
- flat bread to serve 

- in a saucepan heat up the oil on a medium heat. 
- fry off the onion & garlic until soft
- add the spices & fry until aromatic
- add in all the sauces, vinegar & soup mix & bring to the boil
- pour in 1 cup of water, allow to thicken & reduce down over a low heat. You might need to add more water as you go. You want the sauce thickened slightly but still runny enough to coat the crab.
- I allowed my sauce to simmer away for about half an hour & added nearly the whole 2 cups of water. 

For the crab
- we cleaned the crab & broke it into pieces (the claws off & the head & leg piece in half) & then cracked the claws with pliers so the sauce could penetrate. 
- heat a large pot over high heat with a little oil & fry off the crab pieces until they start to turn red. 

- reduce the heat to medium & add the sauce, stir through & cover the pot & allow to cook for about 7 mins stirring occasionally. 

- we served ours with packet 90 second precooked rice & homemade flat bread (I will post that recipe another time)

Enjoy!!! You will get covered in sauce & crabby goodness but so worth it.