Monday, 30 June 2014

Home Valley Station

Home Valley Station

As we pulled into Home Valley we were pretty impressed. The reception area, bar & kitchen are all located in a huge big open air shed that is decorated with farming memorabilia, very nicely done. We asked about camping & were offered either a powered or unpowered site at the homestead, we asked if the river campsite was available & she said yes it is.  We already knew we wanted to camp on the river, but it seemed strange she didn't mention it. Oh well, camping was $19.50 per person per night, we booked in for 3 nights. We made our way down to the river camp on the Pentecost River, it was just beautiful with the Cockburn ranges in the background. 

The view from the campsite above & sunrise below

There were a few people fishing but only one other campsite, so we had the pick of the spots. We soon set up & went down to the river to check it out. There are salt water crocodiles here so you need to be careful. What a great campsite, as the afternoon rolled on no other campers turned up so we had the whole place to ourselves, just magic. Unfortunately it didn't stay that way & the second night we had about 7 neighbours & the next to many to count! Oh well. 

Home Valley has various walking trails that you can do & also the Bindoola Falls, in the end we didn't do any of these & just spent our days, fishing, relaxing, catching up on clothes washing, fixing the winch control box & a few other maintenance things on the car & trailer. We even splurged on lunch at the restaurant twice, the first day being the best meal we have had for the whole trip & the next day being the worst meal we have had for the whole trip, very disappointing. We even had a swim in the resort pool. We also met Troy & Jackie, a couple from Melbourne who had a lot of similarities to us & had a great evening with them over the campfire on our last night. Unfortunately no Barramundi was caught, I got a great bite on a live bait mullet, but it spat the hooks as I got it to the bank, not sure what type of fish it was though. 

Some of the bulls near the campground, I think just for the tourists to photograph!!

Home valley provided us a very enjoyable couple of days, we would defiantly recommend the campsite on the river it even had toilets & showers! The restaurant was hit & miss but provided a great place & atmosphere for a few beers & we are told the night time entertainment is heaps of fun. Definitely worth a visit. 

Camp Oven Pizza

We have been talking about doing camp oven pizzas for ages, but never got around to it. After a big day walking at Mt Elizabeth station on the Gibb River Road, I decided it was time, we had plenty of fire wood for the night. The main concern we had was the height to try & get the pizzas at in the camp oven, we have the normal old trivets, but weren't sure if the top would brown enough being so low in the oven & if the bottom would burn. We ended up finding a terracotta tile that we wrapped in foil & placed on the trivet & placed the pizzas on the top (on a pizza tray). This worked great for the top of the pizza & it ended up nice & browned but the bottom wasn't as good. It was cooked through, but we like our pizzas a bit crunchy on the bottom, so next time I don't think we will use the tile & will just try on the trivet, with lots of coals on top. They were delicious & we made a garlic & cheese version as well. We just made the pizzas the same, with what we had left in the fridge & camping food box, but you can definitely change it up. 

Camp Oven Pizzas

Pizza Dough
- 4 cups of bread flour
- 2 teaspoons of dried yeast
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 to 1/2 cups of warm water you might need more or less depending on the flour

Mix all ingredients together & knead the dough until becomes elastic & smooth, at least 5-10 minutes. Let rest until it doubles in size. Knock back the dough to remove air bubbles & cut into portions (I did 2 large & 1 small). Roll out to the size of your pizza tray. 

Pizza toppings

Garlic & Cheese pizza
- fresh garlic minced
- grated mozzarella
- cracked black pepper
- olive oil

Supreme pizza
- ham
- chorizo salami
- sliced onion
- tin of champingion mushrooms
- tin of pineapple pieces
- tin of anchovies
- small packet of olives
- grated mozzarella 
- tomato paste

- for the garlic pizza, spread the olive oil over the base, add the garlic, cheese & pepper.
- for the supreme, spread over the tomato paste & then add the toppings as you like. 

We baked our garlic pizza first & it took about 25mins in a preheated camp oven, with a shovel of coals under & on top of the camp oven. The supreme pizzas took about 35-40 mins each, again with coals on the top & bottom. Our heat was perfect when cooking our 3rd pizza & it turned out the best as the camp oven was the hottest. 

We will definietly tweaks the cooking next time, by trying it with no terracotta tile & just the trivet. Pizza toppings are endless, like always, but can be limited to what you have available while camping. I would love to try a dessert pizza next time too!

Sunday, 29 June 2014



We got up early to leave our King Edward River campsite because we knew we had a decent days worth of driving ahead of us up to Kulumburu. The road up to the Carson River crossing wasn't too bad, corrugated & rough in patches with lots of places we had to slow down to first or second gear to get the trailer through safely without damaging it, so the going was slow. 

Kalumburu road 

We arrived at the Carson River at about 11am or so, to find a tag along tour group completing the crossing. There is the main crossing but also one just up to the right that is a bit shallower. The tour group crossed the shallower one & it was about half wheels deep, as they came across we asked what the road was like & they said you have definitely just done the best bit & it gets rough. We had some morning tea & then went across the Carson River also using the shallower crossing as we were a bit worried about the electronics box on the front of the trailer. Everything went well & it wasn't that deep. 
Carson river crossing on the Kulumburu road

As soon as you are across the river you realise the last 30kms into Kulumburu has not been graded for a long time. The road is really bad, so washed out in a lot of places that there are new side tracks everywhere & some times you wonder if you are still on the right track. We barely got out of second gear for that 30kms & there were a few other creek crossings as well. 

Kalumburu road north of the Carson River

More creek crossings

It seemed to take forever but finally we approached the town itself. We were very impressed by Kulumburu it was neat & tidy & we were surprised at how good the housing was. We pulled up at the mission store but it was closed, so we wandered up a bit further & found the community store where we could by our tourist permit for $50. No one at any stage asked us about our access permit (that Mats family had done online for us). We paid our money & grabbed a few basic groceries. The shop was pretty good, they had most things, it was expensive but the fresher & healthy food seemed to be subsided. We got a 3kg bag of oranges for $7.50 & sweet potatoes for $4.99 a kg, a carton of eggs was $6.50, but if you wanted a small box of coco pops they were $11.35. 

We chatted to one of the ladies working there about where to camp & she suggested McGowans Island, our other option was Honeymoon Beach. We decided to try McGowans Island & set off. The road out of town was excellent & recently graded, we soon realised it was taking us towards where the barge comes in with all the supplies for the town, once past the barge turn off though, the road deteriorated again & once again most of the way was in second gear with huge corrugations & wash outs. We finally drove into McGowans island camp area, we pulled up at the house where the reception area was. We were greeted by a less than friendly or helpful gentleman & in the end got out of him that it was as $20 each person to camp per night & we could camp wherever we liked. Okay, we hesitantly paid for 3 nights. We drove down to the camp area & it was pretty full as it wasn't a large area at all, we found a site just back from the water that suited us & we started to set up. One of the other campers then came over & gave us the run down on what the go with everything was, it seemed we all got the same unfriendliness from the owner. It was a beautiful spot right on the water, with pretty good fishing & great views, but other than that is was a bit disappointing. 

McGowans island rocks above & our camp below

Everything that was advertised about the place was only partly true. They have signs & information on the internet that boasts the cheapest fuel on the Gibb River Road. This is not true their fuel was $2.85 the dearest on the Gibb & probably anywhere in Australia. They also say they have an off shore barge that yachts & boats can fuel up at, so that is why they have cheap diesel apparently, no actually what really happens is he drives his fuel tanker down onto the beach & the boats have to come right to shore to fill up, cars also have to get diesel from his tanker. We didn't get any fuel from him. They also advertise a laundry, but this is really his personal washing machine on his verandah that you can use for $8 a load, they also advertise showers & toilets they do have these, but there is no hot water, they weren't cleaned at all while we were there & there was no toilet paper in them for the first two days, at $40'a night I expect loo paper. They advertise that internet is available, & yes they delivered on that, but it is his wireless internet at the house, that he did let us use for free, but you had to sit on his verandah to use it & he definitely wasn't happy about it. Other than the unfriendliness & false advertising of the place, we did enjoy our stay. It was a nice place to relax & Mat did plenty of fishing from the rocks & got some nice Bream & a big Painted Sweet Lip. 

By our 3rd night we were trying to decided whether to extend for a couple of nights or if we should move to Honeymoon Beach, we had heard it was a bit rugged. We decided to go for a drive to check it out before we made a decision.  When we arrived we were greeted warmly & told it was no problem for us to have a look around to decide if we wanted to stay. It was another breathtakingly beautiful spot & we were sold straight away. We went back to the house & said we would be back the next day. We moved the next day, it was our shortest move of the trip so far at 7km, but so worth it. When we arrived that next day we again were warmly greeted by the owner who's dad is a traditional owner.  It was $15 per person per night & we found an amazing campsite right on the beach. The facilities at Honeymoon are very very basic, but it didn't matter as the place just had a great vibe. Don't count on getting any drinking water at Honeymoon (you can at McGowans), the water is full of iron & comes out bright red, I wouldn't drink it, the owners said they do after letting it settle. We stayed for 3 more nights & loved it. More fishing, relaxing & exploring. Mat was devastated we didn't have a boat at Kulumburu as those going out fishing in the boats were getting heaps of fish, from red fish, cod, queenies, trevally & Jew fish. 

Honeymoon beach

Campsite at Honeymoon above & view out from the campsite below

We thought it was worth the effort of getting to Kulumburu to experience the remoteness & beauty of the place. For us we think you definitely need to spend at least 3-4 days to make the drive worthwhile, but plenty of people only stayed for 1 night, just crazy to us.  There is so much potential at Kulumburu to take advantage of the tourist market, it is crying out to have some tours available like fishing, cultural or walking tours. There also didn't appear to be any art or souvenirs or anything for sale except for a guy that hit us up as we first got to town & wanted to know if we were interested in buying any artefacts.  There is also not really any where else you can go other than in town, to the barge landing or to Honeymoon or McGowans, it would of been nice to be able to explore further. Kulumburu is also a dry alcohol free community. 

Kulumburu road hazard sign, love it

We were a little sad as we left Kulumburu, it's not often you get to go somewhere so remote & beautiful. We were aiming to make it back to Drysdale station to camp that day, so had a big day of driving ahead of us. The road back down to Drysdale had deteriorated in the 10 days since we had last travelled it, with way more corrugations. 

It was a long day but we rolled into camp at about 3.30pm & stayed at the homestead this time & only set up a basic camp & had dinner at the restaurant. After a week with no beer, we were soon in the bar having a couple of quiet beers when we met a great couple from Port Hedland Tony & Lisa, Tony introduced himself as a professional Tugga (tug boat driver) & Lisa is a police officer. We had a great night with them, sharing stories & drinking too much, both boys were a bit dusty the next morning!! 

Drysdale river station

The next morning as we were packing up Mat noticed we had broken the support that holds up the winch control box on the bull bar. We tied it up as best we could & asked the workshop at Drysdale if they had a bit of scrap metal we could have & planned to fix it when we got to Home Valley station. We left Drysdale & after 60km were back on the Gibb River Road. We called into the famous Ellenbrae station that offer scones with jam & cream & they were awesome! Definitely worth a stop & after another 100km or so pulled into Home Valley station. More on that in our next post.  

Ellenbrae Station the best & only scones on the Gibb

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Drysdale River Station, King Edward River & Mitchell Falls

Drysdale River Station, King Edward River & Mitchell Falls

The next stop after Mt Elizabeth Station was Drysdale River Station we planned to spend a couple of nights before heading onto Mitchell Falls. It is about 160km from Mt Elizabeth to Drysdale & you leave the Gibb River Road & head north on the Kulumburu Road for the final 60km. The roads themselves were again variable, but not to bad, lots of corrugations & rough patches & small creek crossings. We arrived at the station & it was pretty busy, there were a couple of off road caravans that had just come back from Kulumburu so we were pretty certain we would be able to get through. We went into the shop to ask about camping. There were 2 options either at the homestead campground for $15 per person with showers, toilets & a laundry or a bit further down the road to Miners Pool camp on the Drysdale River with only pit toilets for $10 per person. We chose Miners Pool & headed the couple of kms down to the camping area. It was a nice shady large camping area right on the river.  On our first night there were only 6 other campsites taken, & only 3 on the second, so it was pretty quiet. The river itself was lovely, with a huge sand bar & also a deep pool of a water for fishing or swimming. We set up camp & went for a swim & fish in the afternoon. It was getting a bit chilly at night, so we stoked up the camp fire. 

The next day was a getting sorted day, we went back to the homestead to try to organise our 
permit to enter Kulumburu using the stations coin phone only to be told you can't do it over the phone anymore & that we would need to use the internet or go to the Kunnunara office, she didn't seem to understand we hadn't had phone reception for 2 weeks since leaving Broome. So a phone call to Mats mum to see if she could book it online for us & we said we would ring back in a couple of hours to see how she went. It was then time for a shower & a load of clothes washing, & we decided to have lunch at the station. Mat got a burger that was pretty good, but I had the chicken & salad sandwich which comprised of dry white bread, margarine, frozen chicken, lettuce & tomato. Mats burger even had cucumber, so I am not sure what justifies the word salad. It's a bit like the saying you should never order fish & chips when you aren't near the ocean I guess, lesson learned, oh & the sandwich was $9! Diesel at Drysdale was $2.40/L. 

A quick phone call to my parents to let them know we were still alive & also one to my brother & sister in law to see how their gorgeous little girls Isabelle's 1st birthday went. Then another call to Mats mum to see how she went with the permit, which she managed to sort for us with some help from Mats aunty Det, thank god for family! God knows how much money we put through the stations pay phone that day, but I did see the guy emptying it after we'd finished, so we must of filled it up. Back to camp for another chilly night, we stoked the fire again & got the music out & had a really nice night. 

Pack up day had arrived again & today we were heading up to the campground on the King Edward River called Munurru. We would then camp that night & leave our trailer there & head into Mitchell Falls for a day trip. It was only a 110km run for the day from Drysdale to the King Edward river. The road stayed about the same, with lots of rough patches. We reached the turn off for the Mitchell Plateau Road & the campsite was 10km in. The road immediately deteriorated & we saw a sign warning of it being an unmaintained road. It was rough, rocky & slow with the trailer. We came to the King Edward River itself & it was flowing pretty strong, the entrance, bottom & exit were rocky, the water came up to about the sidesteps on the car & was the deepest we had taken the trailer, we crossed with no problem & had no water enter the trailer. The campsite was another 3-4km in, we had information that you could camp just before & just after the crossing of the river, but it seems they have removed this free camp & now you have to camp in a bit further along the river, it is all signposted. The campsite is run by the department of environment & conservation but isn't actually a national park. Camping was $10 per person per night & it had toilets. It is actually one of the best campsites we have found on our journey so far. Very well set out & spaced out, with fire rings in most sites & a good amount of toilet blocks. We found a site up the back by ourselves, set up once again & then decided to go exploring. The campsite runs along the edge of the river & up our end had an amazing pool for swims in or fishing & up the other end an amazing waterfall. The rock surrounding the waterfall was an amazing polished red colour with huge holes worn by smaller rocks where the water flows. It was a great bonus. 
It was then back to camp to organise dinner & organise ourselves for our big trip into Mitchell falls the next day, we planned to leave at daylight, so we packed our backpacks, made some sandwiches & went to bed early. 

We were up at 5.20am with enough time for a quick bowl of cereal & we were off. We had 78km to travel to get to the walking trail. What followed was 2.5 hours of hell, it was the worst road we had travelled on so far on the trip, may be ever! The corrugations were huge & just rattled everything to pieces. We had to stop once to fix the fridge tie downs, as they had came lose allowing the fridge to rub on the cargo barrier. We were very happy to finally reach the car park & very happy we didn't drag our trailer all the way in (you can camp at the Mitchell Falls national park it's $7 per adult with toilets). The walk into Mitchell Falls is 4.3km each way, with the option to get a helicopter ride in or out & just walk one way. We decided to splurge on it & were going to get it back, but they were booked out in the afternoon so we decided to fly in, so 20 minutes later we were in the chopper, it was both our first chopper ride. It was only a 6 minute flight & cost $130 each. Very expensive, but really worth it, it was amazing, I got some great photos from the air & we were only passengers. It feels really close when you fly & you have to remember you have a 4km walk back out. We landed right at the falls, so we got to then take more photos from the ground. Mitchell Falls is massive, it must be one of the biggest waterfall in the Kimberley, it has 4 separate pools & drops, it's just spectacular. 

You then Have to cross the Mitchell river itself near the top of the falls to get back to car park. It is pretty deep & flowing strong, they have put 4 poles across to show the way & there are sticks on each side to use to help you negotiate your way across & to find the deep bits. Use a stick it helps!! We set off, Mat with the backpack, me with the camera & our shoe laces tied so we could hang or shoes around our necks. Mat went first & was almost at the end when he came unstuck & the next thing I saw him half sitting in the water, with the backpack just touching the water, I couldn't do anything to help. The backpack had the satellite phone & video camera & the all important lunch! We thought for sure something would be wrecked, but luckily it didn't get wet  Mats boots didn't fair so well, so I called him squelchy for the rest of the walk! It was very funny, but we were very lucky not to ruin anything. 

The rest of the walk back was lovely & we saw lots of waterfalls & creeks, but it felt a bit weird having seen the most amazing bit first & the exhilaration of the chopper ride, so we felt a bit flat about the rest. Which is crazy because it was gorgeous. So not sure which way we would recommend doing the flight, but it is worth it. It think part of it was we knew we had the crappy drive back as well. 

We made it back to the car park & set off. It wasn't any better going home & we came across a young couple with a broken shock absorber in their trailer, with 2 screaming kids, their air conditioning died, they had trouble with their jerry cans & the convoy they were travelling in had left them & they couldn't get them on the radio. Poor buggers, we gave what advice we could, but there wasn't much we could do, their plan was to get back to Drysdale for a repair.   

We finally got back to camp, exhausted, checked over the car & trailer & it seemed we had faired okay. An easy dinner & to bed early. We had decided to stay another day at camp as we knew we would have had a huge day at Mitchell falls, we had a chat to the camp ground host & he told us about some rock art sites close by. We went for a drive & found some of the best rock art sites we have seen anywhere. The campground at the King Edward River should be a destination in itself, it is great camping, an amazing river & waterfall, amazing indigenous culture. Definitely check it out & stay a few days. Next up was the trip up to Kulumburu, we were excited & anxious to see what we would find.