Sunday, 31 August 2014

August Round Up

August Round Up

On the 1st of August we were at Wyndham on the 31st of August 2014 we were at Balla Balla south of Port Hedland. 

Total kilometres travelled 3169km. 

Total diesel bought 525.97L total cost $915.34 dearest diesel $1.849 at Halls Creek, cheapest diesel $1.695 at Broome. 

Average fuel economy is still about 17-18L/100km when calculated per tank. 

Camping. Camped 22 days in August. 9 free camp nights, 13 paid, 9 nights at Anne Marie's house in Broome. Total cost $446 average of $34.30 per night for paid camping, average of $20.27 when averaged over the 22 days. Cheapest camp $24 a night for 2 people at Bungle Bungles & Dearest camp fees $40 at Gnylmarung & Port Smith. 

Best campsite - Langi Crossing & Gnylmarung. 

Worst campsite - Bungle Bungles & Palm Springs, but both only because of our neighbouring campers. 

Best experiences - catching up with friends, a week in Broome. Domes walk, Cathedral gorge & echidna chasm at the Bungles. 

Worst experiences - getting chased out of camp at Palm Springs, a lot of Cape Leveque being not accessible. 

Best camp cooked meal - beef ribs in the camp oven, risotto, charcoal peri peri chicken. 

Best bought meal - wood fired pizza at the Mango Place in Broome. Lunch at Cygnet Bay Pearl farm, a tasting plate of pearl meat in sushi, tempura, salad & sashimi, yum. 

Quotes of the month
We have had heard some cracker comments from our fellow travellers, so we have decided to bring you "Quotes of the month" to share. 

"There's no need to fire up mate" as the local tried to light his fire a metre from our tent at Palm Springs.

"Run for your lives, it's everyone for themselves" said jokingly by a camper when the fire was near camp at Gnylmarung, it terrified a already scared 8 year old. 

Things we are missing
Our dogs Milly & Robbo, the family, clean feet, washing machine, gardening (weird I know), salad, the farm. 

Things we are not missing 
Cold weather, routine, work. 

That's it for August. Can't believe we are about to go into September, time is flying & we are a little sad to have reached the half way mark. 

Keep reading the blog in the next few days for our first ever GIVEAWAY, make sure you don't miss out on the chance to win a great prize. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Port Smith

After a quick resupply in Broome we headed down to Port Smith, this was one of the only places we missed on our way up to Broome from Port Hedland originally. It is 20km off the highway on good quality dirt road. There is just a caravan park & a private homestead at Port Smith, so the only option to camp was the caravan park. Rates were $40 for a powered site per night. The sites are on red dirt, but are large & pretty shady & the on site facilities are really good & the staff very friendly. 

Looking down at the lagoon

The main attraction at Port Smith is the lagoon. It is just down from the campground & it is a lagoon that fills & empties with the tide. The tides here are still really big, so you have to be careful when accessing it. We went down for look the next day. High tide was at lunch time, so we went down at about 8.30am. When we arrived you had to walk through the mangroves to get to the water, it was pretty empty but the tide was starting to rush in. By the time we found a fishing spot, the tide had already come in heaps, so we had to back track, so we didn't get stuck. We found a spot to fish near a little channel & as the water got deeper the fish started biting. Mat got a big yellow tail bream & the guy beside us got a long tom on a lure, soon the water was pushing in behind us & we had to retreat back through the mangroves, wading through water, to the car (luckily on high dry ground!), so we didn't get stuck. The power & quickness of the tide was unbelievable, it came up so fast. 

The lagoon above & below

As it was still early we decided to have a look at a place they call the cliffs. The directions they have were a bit sketchy, but we did manage to find them & what a sight. We have never seen anything like it. Beautiful white cliffs, with the bluest water, in all different shades than you have ever seen. It was really magical. Mat chucked in the fishing line, while I scanned the water for whales with my binoculars, sadly I didn't see any. Mat didn't catch a fish either, but we were so swept up in the scenery that it didn't matter & we had the whole place to ourselves. 

The cliffs above & below

We went back to camp for some lunch & a bit of a rest & then Mat decided he wanted to go for a fish again, as the tide was going out. I decided not to go & spent the afternoon reading magazines (one good thing about caravan parks, is most of them have a magazine & book exchange) it was lovely. Mat went fishing, but didn't catch any, but had a great time exploring the area, while the tide was out. 

The next day we went back to the lagoon again for another fish, but like the day before, just when the fish started biting, the tide comes in too far & you have to get out before you get stuck by the tide. So no fish for dinner that night. We spent the afternoon getting sorted to leave the next day & charging everything up, as we don't plan on having power for while now. So it will be a big day into Port Hedland, for a quick shop & then we will find somewhere south on the coast for a few days. 

The tide comes in so fast

Port Smith is definitely worth a look, but again you really need a boat to explore it properly (as Mat keeps mentioning over & over!). We stayed for 3 nights from the 27-30th of August. 

Red winged parrots hanging out at the campground

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Cape Leveque - Gnylmarung

Breathtakingly beautiful, stunning red cliffs, white sand & the bluest water, we have been looking forward to Cape Leveque for a long time, but were sadly disappointed by some of it. If you have been reading the blog you might remember in our Broome the first time post, that we actually came some of the way up towards Cape Leveque to check out James Price Point & Quandong Beach last time we were in town, it was just amazing, the most beautiful scenery & great free camping right on the beaches. We assumed the rest of Cape Leveque would be the same?? Sadly no!

Gnylmarung beach 

We had done some research into where to camp further north, but couldn't find any free options, but did find a place called Gnylmarung that sounded great & was a bit off the tourist map, so we decided to go their first. We left Broome & headed up the Cape Leveque road, the bitumen soon ended & we were on the infamous dirt road stretch towards the Cape. It was everything everyone says, just a really bad dirt road, full of sand, corrugations & very narrow in places. But take some air out of your tyres & take it steady & you will be fine. We hit the bitumen again for about 25km & then came to the turn off to Gnylmarung. The road in was the same, pretty average, but not to bad & the signage was good. We arrived at the community to find a very neat & tidy campground overlooking a beautiful pristine bay. The caretakers were extremely friendly & gave us all the information we needed & let us pick a site. There were a few other campers, but it wasn't packed. We ended up taking a site that overlooked the water, just magic. After setting up, the rest of afternoon was spent checking out the beach & enjoying the view. 

The view from camp above & our campsite below

The next day we got up early for a walk on the beach, just lovely, we then went for a fish, but had no luck. It was really quiet & all of the other campers were great, it had a really great vibe about the place. The cost is $20 per person per night (which is comparable to all of the other options for camping at Cape Leveque). Firewood is supplied & you go & collect it from a trailer, there are new toilets & showers & even a Satellite phone that you can use for free calls to any landline number in Australia. There is good drinking water, but no phone reception. 

Gnylmarung beach

The next day we decided to go for a drive to the top of the Cape, to see if there was anywhere else worth camping for a few days, we expected to move at least once & may be up here for up to 2 weeks. The whole day was pretty disappointing. Almost everywhere you go you have to pay to get in. They all have day use or visitor fees that you have to pay if you want to see anything & a lot of the roads are no entry or local access only. We went up to One Arm Point right at the top, we had to pay $10 each to go to the community. They then give you a map showing you where you can go, which isn't much. It does include access to the Trochus Hatchery that operates in the community which is worth a visit, there are big tanks of Trochus, fish, coral, turtles, all sorts of things, it's a really cool place.
Barramundi Cod at the Trochus hatchery

Clown fish

Then there are a couple of beaches you can go to. These are very beautiful & you also get to see the huge tides rushing into the King Sound Inlet, they have to be seen to be believed. The $10 each you pay for access to One Arm Point is actually probably worth it. 

Tides rushing past at King Sound

One Arm Point beach

We left there & headed into the Cygnet Bay pearl farm for lunch, refreshingly you didn't have to pay to get in! We had a really nice lunch, checked out their gallery & they also have a lookout over the water that is worth a look. 

Lookout view at the pearl farm 

We then went to Kooliman, one of the famous accommodation & camping options. They also wanted to charge a $5 each access fee, so instead we just bought an ice cream from their shop & snuck around the front for a look at their amazing water view, it is beautiful, & we did see whales frolicking just off shore. 

Kooliman view

On the way home we were going to have a look at Middle Lagoon, but they also wanted $10 to access the place & we were sick of paying the tourist tax so decided not too. We headed back to camp & got talking to some guys that had been staying at Gnylmarung also & doing a fishing charter for a week, they were lovely guys & had been catching some quality fish & they even gave us some lovely reef fish & mackerel fillets. Our faith in humanity has been really restored at Gnylmarung it has a really great atmosphere. 

Gnylmarung beach

We decided to stay one more day here & then head back to Broome. Our day was spent swimming & fishing & late in the afternoon just as we were packing up what we could, a large bushfire came towards the campground. One guys camp was right in the path of the fire & the guys quickly back burned to save his campsite. Everyone worked together to help, as we were all a bit anxious as to what the fire would do. The back burning helped & things calmed down. We had a great chat with a family that were travelling similar to us. All of the campers were like minded people & it was a great atmosphere. This was perpetuated by the owners Alfons & Delma who are wonderful family people & they should be very proud of what they have achieved at Gnylmarung. 

A bushfire near the campsite

We had a wonderful time at Gnylmarung & wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others, if you are after something quiet & relaxed it is the place for you. As for the rest of Cape Leveque, it was disappointing, the scenery is amazing, just be prepared to pay for the pleasure.  We ended up staying 4 nights from the 23-26th of August, a far cry from the 2 weeks we expected. Our advice would be to free camp at either James Price Point or Quandong beach & do a day trip to Cape Leveque or if you do want to camp further up, check out Gnylmarung, you won't be disappointed. It took us just under 3 hours to drive from Gnylmarung back to Broome, we did a quick shop & then headed south to Port a Smith, more on that camp in our next post. 

Gorgeous blue water at Gnylmarung, great for a dip

The bay at Gnylmarung with the tide way out, the photo was taken late in the afternoon when the bushfire was around, so it's pretty hazy. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Broome - The Second Time

After Langi Crossing we headed into Broome, this time to catch up with my old friend Anne Marie. We lived & worked together in Katherine for 6 months, 7 years ago & had caught up briefly in Rockhampton a number of years ago but hadn't seen each other for ages. We met up for a quick lunch as she was working & she gave us the keys to her unit & we spent the afternoon getting some washing done & meeting her kitten Puddin. The next day was the Broome rodeo, so we went out on dark to watch some of the action, it was a great night, a very old school style rodeo which was fun, but the rodeo grounds are a fair way out of town, so Anne Marie drove & Mat started to feel a bit crook, so it ended up being a pretty tame night & we were home by about 10.30pm. 

The next day was the races, it was the Broome Cup. Mat was still feeling sick, so just us girls hit the track. Mat kindly dropped us off so we could have some beers & the poor bugger got a flat tyre (in Anne Marie's car) on the way home, so had to change a tyre while feeling sick, not fun. Meanwhile we were having a great time catching up & I got to meet some of Anne Marie's friends including Felicity Brown, an amazing lady, who has an amazing story, she is about to showcase her hats at New York fashion week next month, check out her blog for the full story. We eventually got kicked out of the race track (not just us, everyone ha ha) & got the bus into the tavern & finally they also shut the tavern for the night, we thought we would walk home, but soon got too lazy & called Mat to come & get us, he was very good about the whole thing & put up with the drunken car ride home!

The action at the Broome Races, a great dirt track

The next day us girls were a bit seedy & Mat was still sick, so not good. Anne Marie had to pick up a backpacker off the plane & drive him out to the cattle station that she runs with her partner. She works a few days in town during the week & is at the station over the weekends normally, so she took her new staff member out to the station & we were left to our own devises. 

We had a pretty quiet week in Broome. Mat was still feeling unwell & he finally went to the doctor, the doctor couldn't really explain what was wrong, but gave him some medicine just in case he had picked up something from the water. By this stage Mat was as feeling a bit better but took the tablets anyway, not that they did much. So we are not sure what he had, but he seems to be over it now. 

While in Broome we did manage to do a few things. I finally managed to pick out a pearl necklace for my 30th birthday in October, we visited the Broome bird park just out of town that was fantastic, we explored Roebuck bay, we took a drive on cable beach itself & watched a heap of backpackers get bogged in the sand. On a side note, cable beach is actually a nudist beach, it was pretty funny to be honest, it seems most people that embrace the nudity are old men!! And they were all pretty tanned, so obviously do it a lot! Ha ha good luck to them. 

Bird park

Driving on Cable Beach

Roebuck Bay

Other than that it was pretty quiet, Mat was pretty buggered, so he tried to rest as much as possible. As we were staying at Anne Marie's unit, it did make it a lot easier & it was nice to have a week to watch a bit of TV (sport for Mat), & have access to a bathroom, kitchen & laundry. We ended up having 9 nights in Broome & thanks to Anne Marie for letting us stay at her place we had a pretty cheap week or so. 

We were hoping to make it out to the cattle station, but the chaotic life of living on a property got in the way, & we didn't want to get in their way, so it looks like we won't get the chance. Next up, it was up to Cape Leveque just north of Broome, our last really Kimberley stop before heading south. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Camper Trailer Maintenance

The trailer has coped a bit of a beating with all of the dirt roads we have been travelling on, especially the Gibb River Road & up to Kulumburu. Whilst in Broome we got the wheel bearings replaced as the trailer has done over 20 000km since they were last done & we want to keep them in good condition. The trailer also received some significant stone/rock damage on those dirt roads & we were concerned about the chances of rust getting in. 

So Mat set about to try to rectify the problem. He washed the trailer, then used a wire brush over the affected areas, then followed with some wet/dry sandpaper, wiped the area clean & then spray painted with Rustguard Hammertone from White Knight, which matches our trailer nicely. 

We know this is not a permanent fix, but it should stop any chance of rust getting into the trailer. We think it came up nicely. 

What we needed

Stone damage on the draw bar

Stone damage on the tent pole box

Also a little bit of stone damage on the trailer itself 

After the first coat (still wet paint)

First coat

First coat

Mat then did another coat 2 days later. 

Second coat

Second coat

He had a small amount of paint left over, so did a final third coat an hour later. 

Completely dry

All done, much better

Also while he did the trailer, Mat also did the stone guard but in black paint. 



Job done, we will see how long it lasts for this time, we still have plenty of dirt road adventures to bring you, so I am sure we will need to do some further maintenance at some stage. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Camping Etiquette

If you have been reading our posts you will no we have had some interesting neighbours while camping lately. When camping we always try to be respectful & courteous to our neighbours. I am not sure why others don't seem to share the same sentiment. 

I found a great article from Chris & Kate at Let's Go Travel Australia on this very topic. Check it out below. Also have a look at the rest of their website & if you have time their photography website, just fantastic. 

If everyone could keep these etiquette tips in mind we would all have an even better time while camping in the great outdoors. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Four months of travel - how much has our "big trip" cost

When we started planning to travel for 12 months we found it very hard to find any information on how much it would cost to tour around Australia in our camper trailer. We did find various estimates that ranged from $1000 a week to $1 per kilometer travelled. We have tried to keep you updated in our month round up posts, to give you an idea of the cost of fuel & camping fees. Now we have completed 4 whole months of travel (April to July inclusive) we wanted to give you a more detailed look at what the cost has actually been. 

A couple of things to note
- there are just the 2 of us
- our tow vehicle is our beloved 2012 model 76 series landcruiser "Ruby"
- we have items on our roof rack (chainsaw box, spare tyre, spare jerry can, swag etc)
- we are towing our 2007 Trackabout Off-road Overlander camper trailer
- we try to sit on 95-100km/hr when highway driving 
- we drive to conditions when driving off road
- we try to free camp as much as possible, but if it means we have to pay to stay somewhere convienent to a certain attraction then we will
- it's worth noting that during this time while we were obviously conscious of our spending, there was very little if anything that we didn't do that we wanted to do, based on cost. At this stage we are still under our budget & aren't limiting our plans. 
- we are hoping our diesel & camping costs will be lower in the following 4 months as we move south & drive less kilometer & hopefully more free or low cost camping options.
- we understand we could definitely travel cheaper. For those on a tighter budget we suggest, planning your stops where you can find lower cost camping, eating out less & being selective & research the tours you want to complete. 

In our calculations
- for our week calculations we used 17 weeks for the 4 months (based on how many Sundays there were during the 4 months)
- for our days calculations we used 122 days for the 4 months
- the "other" category is all sorts of things from doctors appointments, pharmacy items, clothes, books, hair cuts etc
- the repairs & maintenance category is any repairs or maintenance on the car or trailer including servicing, wheel balance & alignment etc. It also covers any resupplies of butane gas, LPG gas, consumables etc. 
- Bought meals includes anything we haven't cooked/made ourselves. From breakfast at a servo or bakery, to lunches or dinners out at the pub, caf├ęs or restaurants, this total cost also includes alcohol consumed at the same time. 

So here are our costs for 4 months of travel. When worked out per kilometer of travel it has cost us $1.24 per kilometer. 

- the cost per night of camping has been higher than we hoped for. This was especially evident at any coastal place & within the Kimberley. 
- the amount of free camping available in Northern WA was less than we anticipated. 
- we are using about 5-10% more diesel than we originally estimated. We put this down to carrying bulky items on the roof rack, & being very conservative about having full water tanks as much as possible, so carry a lot of weight in that. 
- on a plus side we have definietly spent less on repairs & maintenance than expected & have been lucky to be in larger towns when those repairs or maintenance services have been due. 
- we have also spent less on meat on this trip, as we have been able to supplement a lot of our supply with fresh fish. Also by running a freezer we are are able to buy meat when it's cheaper at the bigger towns. 
- our 12V power system has been fantastic. By using the solar panels we very rarely need a 240v power source. If we stay at a caravan park it is almost always for convenience (for a decent shower or to do laundry) or there is no other option for a place to camp. 
- a lot of the time when you pay to camp somewhere you are actually paying for the security of your gear. Yes you can stop at a free rest stop on the side of the highway, but most of the time you won't be comfortable leaving your gear at camp while you go away for the whole day exploring. At least at a paid campground you have that extra security. 

What would we do differently if we started from scratch
- carry less items on the roof rack
- take less clothes (we shipped a whole bag full home)

What will we do going forwards for the rest of our trip
- need to justify why we would stay anymore than 3 nights at one place. 2 whole days & 3 nights should pull most places up. If staying longer there needs to be a good reason. In the first few months we probably overstayed at a few places, which did significantly increase our camping costs. 
- actively choose unpowered campsites when available, instead of paying for power just because it's convenient. This can save $5-10 per night, if we have to stay at a caravan park. 
- do more research on free camping options
- be more restrained with eating out, take the time to make our own lunches on the road. Be selective when you do a eat out, some places have been disappointing & expensive, use TripAdvisor. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Langi Crossing

What a wonderful find. If you want some time out away from too many other tourists, then you have to check out Langi Crossing on the Fitzroy River about 140km east of Broome. It is located on Yeeda Staion, but is open to the public & has kilometres of bush camping right on the river. The track in is about 10km from the highway & pretty rough. Very corrugated & it must of had some rain at some stage as there are some pretty decent wheel ruts & wash aways, but it's only 10km. 

Look for the red arrow. 

We thought there wouldn't be to many caravaner's out there, but there was a few. The first area you get to has a lot of flat ground right on the river (Langi Crossing itself) & most of the big rigs pull in there.

Langi Crossing

Telegraph Pool

 But if you go down the road a bit further towards Telegraph pool, there is heaps of secluded camp spots. We managed to get a spot all to ourselves & we couldn't see any neighbours, which was heaven. It was one of the best campsites we have had during our trip & most days we hardly saw another soul.

Our campsite was right on the river, but it had a decent bank, to keep us safe from the crocs. The crocs used the other side river bank to sun themselves everyday & the most we saw was 13 in about a  400m stretch opposite our campsite. So plenty around, that ranged from the big fellas to the little ones. 

View from camp above & below

We spent our time fishing, still no Barra though despite being able to get some decent live mullet for bait & exploring this area. There were lots of birds around as well. The only downside to the campsite was the wind. It blew all day long & was quite gusty, but eased off at night. We got really lucky as it was the full moon & super moon while we were there & the moon rose over the water each night, right across from our campsite, just beautiful. 

There are actually 3 crocs in this photo, it shows the different sizes. 

Other than that this is a great spot, the lack of people around definitely contributed to that. So if you are looking for a camp spot not far from Broome, then check out Langi Crossing on the Fitzroy River. We stayed for 4 nights, there are no facilities so make sure you take a bush toilet & shower set up & use them responsibly. Please take your rubbish out with you as well.  Best of all it is free, so let's look after these places so they continue to allow the public access. We stayed from the 10-14th of August.