In 2010 we travelled “half way round” Australia travelling through Western Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and the centre of South Australia on the return journey.
We utilised a 2005 Holden Rodeo twin cab four wheel drive utility which had been converted to run on LPG. We towed a 2009 model Paradise Haven Caravan comfortably equipped for a couple.
Our journey started from our home on the Sunshine Coast on 24th April with a short first day of travel taking us as far as Kilcoy to meet with friends who would travel with us as far as Winton. Next day we travelled to Injune via Chinchilla, Miles and Roma and from there next morning we travelled to our first target destination the Carnarvon Gorge – http://nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/carnarvon-gorge/index.html We spent three days exploring the gorge absorbing the sights and sounds of the place – a quite unique experience.
The evening of 29th April 2010 found us camped at Alpha after having travelled from Carnarvon Gorge via Rolleston, Springsure and Emerald. Next day we pushed on to Longreach stopping briefly along the way at Barcaldine. While at Longreach we visited the Stockman’s’ Hall of Fame http://www.outbackheritage.com.au/ and the QANTAS Founders Museum http://www.qfom.com.au/. From Longreach we pressed on to Winton to stay for a couple of nights.
While at Winton we explored the town including the Waltzing Matilda Centre http://www.matildacentre.com.au/ and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Centre http://australianageofdinosaurs.com/ In addition there are other unique attractions to be seen at Winton including Arno’s Wall and the Musical Fence. Our friends left from Winton to travel via Lark Quarry south to Cunnamulla to attend a Country Music Event and we moved on to Mt Isa.
While at Mt Isa we encountered a group of motorcyclists travelling to Darwin. This group of about 120 riders was participating in the “Long Ride” which aims to increase awareness of prostate cancer and men’s health issues. In 2013 the ride appears to be heading for Cairns http://www.freewebs.com/longride2010/ and will occur in early May. After spending two nights in Mt Isa, replenishing supplies and attending to mundane matters such as washing and ironing we headed west via Camooweal crossing into the Northern Territory with our first overnight stop being at Barkly Homestead.
The historic Daly Waters Hotel http://dalywaterspub.com/ was the destination for our next overnight stay having travelled along the Barkly Highway to its junction with the Stuart Highway at the Three Ways thence north via Renner Springs to Daly Waters.
From Daly Waters we travelled to the town of Katherine where we spent several days exploring the area – notably the Katherine Gorge in the Nitmiluk National Park – http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/find/nitmiluk
Kakadu National Park http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/kakadu/ was our next destination and we spent several days in one of the many caravan parks in the township of Jabiru while we explored Kakadu and Arnhem Land via water, via road and from the air. Kakadu is something not to be missed.
Darwin was our next major port of call and we stayed in the Territory capital for three weeks while we played at tourist visiting many of the local attractions. We visited local attractions in Darwin – Crocydylus Park as well as the Litchfield National Park http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/find/litchfield and the Territory Wildlife Park http://www.territorywildlifepark.com.au/
While in Darwin we also drove down to the Adelaide River to take a cruise on Adelaide River Queen http://www.jumpingcrocodilecruises.com.au/ to see the jumping crocodiles which are plentiful in the river.
Three weeks in Darwin may have been too long and if we were doing the same trip again we may have shortened our stay; however in some respects it was just right as we were able to have some modifications done to our vehicle and repairs when the fuel pump failed (better in Darwin where help was readily available than along the track where we may have been stranded).
Leaving Darwin we travelled south along the Stuart Highway to Katherine where we turned west for our journey to Kununurra and the State of Western Australia.
Our first stop on the journey to the west was an overnight stay at Timber Creek and the next day we travelled on to the Western Australia border checkpoint, where our van was searched for fruit and vegetables before being allowed to enter the State; next stop Kununurra.
Kununurra is the centre of a vast agricultural area made possible by the Ord River irrigation scheme – http://www.lakeargyle.com.au/ord-river-irrigation-scheme There is a lot to see in this part of the country and we filled in several days with a flight over the Bungle Bungles http://www.kimberleyaustralia.com/bungle-bungles.html a visit to the Mirima National Park http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_Valley_National_Park a trip to Lake Argyle to explore the lake and adjacent areas and a tour down the Lower Ord River in the late afternoon http://www.scoop.com.au/Region/Kununurra-East-Kimberley/Things-To-Do/Explore-the-Lower-Ord-River/634926427023850000 Through in a day trip to the nearby town of Wyndham and a few places in between along with visits to several attractions in and around Kununurra and our visit was full and fascinating.
Moving further west we departed Kununurra enroute to Broome travelling via Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing and then Derby where we stayed for several days prior to arrival at Broome. At Derby we explore the famous jetty and the area around Kings Sound. The jetty is quite unique.http://au.totaltravel.yahoo.com/listing/640442/australia/wa/kimberleyarea/westkimberley/derby-1/derby-jetty/
As this was the height of the season we had taken the precaution of booking at a caravan park in Broome. Overflow facilities do operate during peak season in Broome and some free camps are available close to the town.
While in Broome we explored the history of the place, enjoyed a trip to the Wiley Creek Pearl Farm and had a camel ride along the famous Cable Beach. We were in Broome during the right time to experience the Staircase to the Moon http://broome.wa.au/events/staircase-to-the-moon where the moon shining on the seashore appears to create a staircase to the sky. This was a lovely natural occurrence that I was unable to capture with my amateur photographic skills but was great to experience.
From Broome we headed south to Port Hedland staying overnight at Pardoo Roadhouse along the way. Port Hedland is a bustling place with iron ore being shipped from the wharves. Marble Bar, credited as being the hottest place in Australia http://www.marblebar.crc.net.au/ has a history of gold mining. A natural jasper bar (mistaken for marble) exists just near the town. We took a day trip Port Hedland to see the bar and explore the town.
About 400 kilometres from Port Hedland, Newman is the home of Mt Whaleback mine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Whaleback_mine cited as being the largest open cut mine in the southern hemisphere. We left the caravan in Port Hedland and travelled to Newman for the purpose of experiencing g the tour of the mine conducted by BHP Billiton. This involved an overnight stay in Newman but it was worth the effort to see the mine.
From Port Hedland we moved south to Karratha where we explored Roeborne, Port Samson, Cossack, Dampier and the Harrup Peninsula. At Dampier a statue has been erected to commemorate the life of Red Dog http://reddogwa.com/the_red_dog_story a local famous in the area for his canine exploits. The movie made about the life of Red Dog was quite entertaining.
Our journey took us to the next stop – Exmouth on the Coral Coast of Western Australia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exmouth,_Western_Australia From Exmouth one can visit the Ningaloo Reef and the Cape Range National Park. There is a lot more to do here than can be accommodated in the three days we spent in the area.
At Carnarvon we visited the 1 Mile Jetty on a cold wet blustery day in July http://www.carnarvon.org.au/accom_result1/one-mile-jetty/ Maintaining the jetty is now a community project as the structure is no longer used for commercial purposes. Carnarvon is also the home to a former NASA tracking station http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnarvon_Tracking_Station and although disused the site is worth visiting.
At Denham we had a caravan park site right on the beach front. http://www.australiascoralcoast.com/destinations/shark-bay-region/denham Monkey Mia was just up the road but we didn’t manage to see the dolphin feeding. There are lots of other things to see in and around Denham and we explored quite a bit during our brief stay.
Further south the town of Kalbarri was one of the spots where we could have stayed longer as there were sites that we could not visit in the short time we were there. http://www.westernaustralia.com/au/Pages/Destination.aspx?n=Kalbarri&pid=9009589&cid=dgm:sem:au1213:inter:Kalbarri&gclid=CPmt2YvP4bQCFQVcpQodlkgAAA A future trip to the area is definitely on the cards.
Geraldton http://www.geraldtonvisitorcentre.com.au/ is a thriving port servicing rural industries and mining. There is a lot to see in the area and much to explore in the town including the memorial to HMAS Sydney II http://hmassydneymemorial.com.au/. This memorial is well worth a visit.
Further south along the coral coast is the town of Cervantes. Cervantes is the jump off point for visits to the Pinnacles and Nambung National Park http://www.australiascoralcoast.com/destinations/cervantes-jurien-bay-region/the-pinnacles-and-nambung-national-park . The Pinnacles are natural limestone structures that have weathered over time to what one sees today. A visit to the park is very worthwhile and a walk through the area provides a fascinating insight. If you don’t feel like walking you can drive through the park using a set track.
In search of wildflowers we set off from Cervantes and moved through rural areas to Mullewa. We were probably a month too early in the season and the wildflower display was not extensive. From Mullewa we continued east to Mt Magnet for an overnight stay and then travelled to Leonora on our way to Kalgoorlie.
Kalgoorlie was to be our base for several days as we attended to mundane matters such as voting in the Federal Government election. While in Kalgoorlie we explored the mining history of the town at the Mining Hall of Fame http://www.wikiaustralia.com/tour/9010316/ and undertook the super pit tour of Australia’s largest open pit gold mine http://www.tourism.wa.gov.au/Media_Centre/Travel_Features_and_Itineraries/Australias_Golden_Outback/Pages/Superpit_Kalgoorlie.aspx
From Kalgoorlie we travelled south to Esperance and travelled the Great Ocean Drive http://svc015.bookeasy.com/images/esperance/GREAT%20DRIVES%2018-11-09.pdf to explore the sights of the country around Esperance and to take a look at the Pink Lake near the town.
Leaving Esperance we travelled inland to Hyden for a look at Wave Rock http://www.waverock.com.au/ this natural formation is quite stunning. Apart from viewing the rock at the front of the wave formation one can also explore the entire rock as there are several vantage points to climb to the top. Once at the top the views of the surrounding country are quite delightful.
Albany was the location we chose for a four day stopover during which we visited Whale World http://www.whaleworld.org/ for an insight into what was involved in whale hunting and the Brig Amity http://www.historicalbany.com.au/amity.htm for a look at what life was like on the voyage of the ship. The museum and the old gaol are also interesting places to visit. Albany is quite an attractive place and while we were there we were fortunate to see whales frolicking very close to the shore. We also visited the Princess Royal fortress while in town.
On the way to Pemberton we encountered the Valley of the Giants Tree top Walk http://www.valleyofthegiants.com.au/ at Walpole. This is a great attraction where one can walk through the canopy of the forest on specially constructed elevated walkways. Back at ground level there is also much to discover along the well-constructed tracks.
At Pemberton we stayed overnight and decided on a tour on the Pemberton Tramway http://www.pemtram.com.au/Pemberton%20Tramway%20Company.htm next morning. This was a delightful journey.
We departed Pemberton after lunch and travelled to Margaret River where we stayed for 5 days while we explore the fabulous country side and visited vineyards, chocolate factories and cheese outlets. We enjoyed a pleasant day touring with Bush Tucker tours http://www.bushtuckertours.com/wineryb.html visiting wineries and breweries on the day.
From Margaret River we moved to Bunbury for a couple of days and then to Perth where we based ourselves for three weeks. There’s lots to see and do in Perth and the adjacent areas of Fremantle, Swan River and the like so we were able to spend the time enjoyably. Our Daughter and her partner joined us for a period while we were in Perth so we were able to do the tourist thing with them.
We were particularly impressed with Kings Park http://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/kings-park and were content to wander the gardens and displays. We were also impressed with the public transport in Perth and made use of a combination of trains and buses regularly.
All too soon we had to depart for the eastern states and we travelled via Southern Cross, Norseman, across the Nullarbor to Madura Pass, Penong and on to Ceduna. At Ceduna we were again subject to a van search at the border check point (the border is back at Border Town just east of Eucla but they only check once you arrive a Ceduna) and had a lemon we had forgotten about confiscated. We spent three days looking around Ceduna before heading off for Port Augusta.
Before we left Port Augusta we had the vehicle serviced and fitted a couple of new tyres to ensure a safe return to our home. Next stop Coober Pedy where we inspected the underground opal mining and living facilities of the miners, visited an underground church and went noodling (searching for opal) at a site near the town centre.
Travelling north on the Stuart Highway we arrived at Erldunda and spent the night before heading west to Yulara to visit Uluru (Ayres Rock) and the Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/ These are fascinating parts of Australia and should be a part of everyone’s travel itinerary.
Leaving Yulara after three days of touring we headed for Kings Canyon http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/find/watarrka#.UPDo0W9J5PY While there we explored the walk along the canyon floor and the next morning embarked on the rim walk around the top of the canyon – exhilarating!
The next stop in our journey found us in Alice Springs where we arrived during the Masters Games in 2010. Many of the folk in the caravan park were participating in the games and by all reports the event was very successful. Apart from exploring the sights and sounds of the Alice http://www.australia.com/explore/cities/alice-springs.aspx we also visited Hermannsburg http://www.hermannsburg.com.au/en-AU/1-Home.html and Standley Chasm http://www.nt.gov.au/westmacs/places/standley-chasm .
The Devils Marbles http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/find/tennant-creekbarkly-region/devilsmarbles#.UPDrF29J5PY are found along the way to Tenant Creek and we called in for a look prior to overnighting at Tenant Creek on our way back to Queensland.
From Tenant Creek it’s a short trip to the Three Ways and the turn off to the Barkly Highway which would take us through to Mt Isa. After a couple of days in Mt Isa we were keen to get moving and drove almost 800 kilometres through to Charter Towers. I spent time in the Towers as a boy and it was interesting to revisit the haunts of my youth.
After two days reliving my youth we drove on to Carmila for an overnight stay and the next day reached Bundaberg where we had lived about 30 years previously. Spent three days in Bundaberg looking up old friends and visiting the sights before we moved on to Hervey Bay for a couple of nights while we again visited friends.
On 25th October 2010, we drove into our home on the Sunshine Coast a little saddened by the end of the trip but glad nonetheless to be back. Some 27,000 kilometres were covered in this trip which we undertook over a period of six months.
While we stayed too long in some places there were others where we didn’t stay long enough – reason for a future visit if you ask me. All in all we had a ball!