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Published: September 11th 2011
Friday 2nd September 2011
We got away at about 8.30am, the van and car combination looking great. Because we had to keep our speed down to 80kph for the next 800kms we expected to put in a long day as we wanted to be near the WA border to meet our friends, Jan and Brett, for lunch tomorrow.
Because of the larger fuel tank (90 litres) we now have a much greater range, even so we stopped at Katherine to top up the tank so that we wouldn't need to use the jerry cans we are carrying. Lunch was at a park just out of town, Judy then took the wheel for the first time in the new car with the van in tow.
She did really well, extending what Rags thought would be a 1 hour stint, to over 2 hours. This gave him a good break, he continued on until the East Baines River rest area. He had intended to continue for another 80kms or so to another named rest area but on seeing this one decided he was more tired than he admitted to. We had covered over 600kms today and as the speed had
been kept to 80kph this wasn't a bad effort.
Sleep came fairly early, no TV, no internet, and no-one else to talk to. Guess we needed it. Saturday 3rd September 2011
We were on the road again by 8.30am and drove the 200kms or so to the border, although with the time zone change we reached WA just after 9.30am WA time. Here we were checked very thoroughly by a Quarantine officer who searched both the car and the van. About the only thing he didn't do was look underneath the van for cane toads.
We reached Kununurra and checked in at the Lakeside Resort, allocated a lovely site overlooking the lake and under the shade of several trees. This kept the van fairly cool during the day, the temperature climbing to the mid 30s.
After a bit of shopping we went to Brett and Jan's house for lunch nearby. Jan had been doing some work in the area for a while, but will be returning to Perth on Sunday. Brett barbequed some barramundi fillets for lunch which he had caught a few days earlier. A most enjoyable afternoon was spent eating, drinking and
generally catching up.
On our return to the van the sun was setting, so we joined a dozen or so other campers for the afternoon, pre-dinner drinks. It is a very sociable park and we talked to several people. The rest of the evening was spent in the van, with the aircon running, to get away from the insects and the heat. As soon as the breeze drops the temperature becomes quite unpleasant.
We'll have a quiet day tomorrow before heading off to Derby. We plan to cover this 900+kms trip in 2 days. With the car now run in we can at least travel at our normal 90kph or so. Sunday 4th September 2011
Today was a day of revisiting the area. Our first stop was Ivanhoe Crossing, a concrete causeway across the river, one which we crossed with some trepidation when last here. There is no way anyone would attempt it at the moment, the water was rushing across and the road was closed.
From here we went towards the Hoochery, the makers of a local rum. On the way we found the new sandalwood showroom, this set up recently to show
what would be produced here in the next few years when the vast sandalwood plantations reach maturity. It is the same company which runs the sandalwood down at Albany, the Kununurra enterprise will eventually become the biggest in Australia. We were given a detailed explanation of the growing of the sandalwood by a very informative lady working there, we being the only visitors so far that day.
The Hoochery was a similar type of visit with the two ladies there being very chatty, Judy having a long conversation with them. We didn't have any tastings, mainly because it was so early in the day.
Kelly's Nob is a large rock outcrop overlooking the town, with a lookout about half-way up. We took photos from here, noting how much is now dedicated to sandalwood. We were told that this replaced the sugar crops which had proved uneconomic.
A restful afternoon followed and in the evening we had our friend, Brett for dinner, cooking the roast we had in the freezer. Jan, his wife, had flown back to Perth earlier that afternoon. We admire them both for working the way they do, this is a good way for them
to get ahead. Monday 5th September - Wednesday 7th September 2011
These days were mainly days of travel. We left Kununurra early Monday and drove towards our next planned destination, Derby, in temperatures reaching 38 degrees. It was good to be in the air-conditioned car.
By mid-afternoon we had covered about 600kms, calling it a day when we reached Fitzroy Crossing. We stopped at the resort there, one we had passed on our previous trips. It was well set up, had drive through bays so that we didn't have to unhitch the van, and had good facilities.
On Tuesday we set off early again (the sun comes up about 5am when you are so far east) and reached Derby just over 200kms away, by about 10.30am. We dropped in to Lorrain's (Judy's step-sister) toy shop to tell her we had arrived. After being invited to a bbq dinner there, we set up the van on the wide verge outside their house.
"Bugsy" (Brett) Lorrain's husband came home at about 4pm and from then until about 10pm we talked, ate and had a few drinks. A good evening was had by all.
on the road by 7.30am after our farewells to our host, we didn't have a set destination in mind, but wanted to get closer to Port Hedland where we had arranged to meet a friend of Judy's youngest son.
As it was, the day was ideal for travel, not too hot (up to 32 Celsius) with strong winds mostly from the north. We stopped at the Roebuck Plains roadhouse to refuel, Judy taking over the driving for a couple of hours further down the road after we stopped for morning tea.
Lunch was at the Sandfire Roadhouse parking area, Judy prepared sandwiches whilst Rags added a 20litre jerrycan to our tank. This would be enough to reach Hedland.
It was before 5pm that we checked into the Black Rock Caravan Park, South Hedland, having driven 760kms today. Not a bad effort, neither of us being very tired attesting to the comfort and quietness of the new Jeep. We are both very happy we bought it although Judy would have chosen another colour if she had the choice. Thursday 8th September 2011
The Black Rock Caravan Park is still the hole it was when we
This was much flooded compared to when we were here a couple of years ago. We stood on the road behind the road closed sign and we drove across it!
were there 2 years ago, the only thing going for it is that you can get in! At $40/night with just ok facilities and parking on red dirt without a sign of grass this is not a place you want to stay at for any length of time.
We checked out at about 9.30am before refueling at the local shopping centre in South Hedland, taking a walk through it to remind us why it didn't make a big impression on us last time.
We arrived at the airport at 10.30am to catch up with Amber, who works at the Hertz counter. We took her for a coffee at the cafe there, catching up with what she had been doing for the last few months.
Whim Creek Pub, about 100kms down the road, was the next stop, but as the mine seems to be closed the canteen was not open to the public so we had lunch in the van.
Karratha was as we remembered it, big and covered in red dust. We were welcomed at Brad and Di's home, parking the van on the street outside. Luckily it's a cul-de-sac so not too much traffic passed.
This is new since we were here previously. Although the sandalwood trees are maturing they have not yet been harvested in Kununurra and most of the products sold here come from another type of sandalwood grown in Albany. Kununurra tress are Indian Sandalwood,
The 3 children we met in Nullagine greeted us affectionately, we also met another son of Di's and his partner.
A good night was had with much drink, talk, and a meal cooked by Di's son. Friday 9th September 2011
We made our farewells around 7.30am and were on the road again. We drove through to Carnarvon, stopping only for morning tea and lunch. Carnarvon was only a fuel stop, we decided that today was a travel day.
By 5.45pm we reached the Overlander Roadhouse and parked several hundred metres away in a clearing. There were a couple of other campers there, giving us a bit of security, and as we had covered 829kms today, plus we had the benefit of a mobile signal for the internet, we called it a day. Saturday 10th September 2011
With us on the road by 7.30am it was obvious that we were aiming to get home today, even though we kept telling each other that it depended on whether or not we found somewhere we wanted to stop for a night.
Northampton, our first stop, was good for a cup of coffee and a peanut
This machine is used to cut the weeds growing in the lake.
We watched it work in the morning before we left Kununurra.
paste sandwich. We were disappointed there wasn't a fete or market there. Next week is the Agricultural Show, which would have been good to see.
We by-passed Geraldton, refueled at the "S Bend" service station and stopped at Dongara. Here we had lunch at the bakery, nice big pasties full of vegetables.
We diverted off the Brand Highway, heading for Cliff Head on the new Indian Ocean Drive. This road was free of the big trucks and even though it was a twisting road, was easy to drive along. We dropped into Cervantes, Wedge Island and Jurien Bay, skipping the other towns such as Lancelin, which we intend to explore more fully at a later date. The coast looked very spectacular and inviting, no doubt helped by the off-shore breeze making the water flat.
The highway is about 20kms longer than the Brand Highway, but it makes up for it with the scenery and lighter industrial traffic.
We were home just after 5pm, a 700+kms trip, tired, but happy to be there. Our kitchen, which was renovated whilst we were away, looked stunning, we are so glad we had it done. As all the furniture had
been packed away and the floors had been sanded and recoated, we had to clear the main bedroom enough to reach the bed, and find a few chairs to sit on whilst we had dinner. Judy's mother joined us not long after we arrived home as she had missed her daughter.
The next few days will no doubt be very busy, catching up with mail, friends, and getting the house habitable. Even so, we decided that we had just had an amazing 4 months, both here in Australia, and in the USA, meeting some fabulous people and having some unforgettable experiences. Thanks to everybody involved, we hope to meet again soon and we hope we can reciprocate your generosity in some way.
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