What a fantastic experience we had at the Space Museum in Carnarvon, Western Australia. We were attracted to it by the huge satellite dish visible from the highway but had no idea of the role Carnarvon played in early space missions, particularly the first moon landings.Continue reading
It was when we were camped up in Broome
Geoff took us for a drive
And he pointed to something on the road
That used to be alive.
He’d taken us to Willie Creek,
And along this sandy track
A shape lay flattened in the sand
And Geoff said “Look at that!”
Well it was thin, like a template made of tin,
And I thought it had a quite familiar look
A rounded face, a pointed ear – a second glance was all it took
To work out what this animal had been.
It was so flat, squashed on the sandy track
By tyres that travelled back and forth all day
The heat had dehydrated it, but you could tell when it was hit
That once upon a time it was a cat!
Rosemary Robinson November 2016
Day 2 – Street
I usually avoid busy streets preferring to spend my driving time on the open road. This road travels between Millstream Chichester National Park and Karijini National Park in Western Australia. It filled my home with red dust and rattled cupboards open, but oh, the scenery …..
And now for something completely different …… this is the main street of the little town of Baliingup, in Western Australia. I’ve discovered so many of these country towns have some quirky little feature that makes them memorable.
I’m so lucky my lifestyle gives me this variety of experiences.
I wrote this simple little poem sitting at the Lake Cowan free camp about 17kms out of Norseman before I started my journey east, across the Nullarbor. Last year, when I attempted the same journey, Brutus (my old campervan) played up about 160kms east of Norseman and I had to get towed back to the beginning, hence the reference in the poem.
I think it’s time to make a list
Before I cross the Nullarbor
I’ll pop into Norseman’s IGA
And see what they have in store.
I need some drinking water
And I’d better get some ice
It makes my gin and tonics
Some fruit and veg go on the list
Though not too much I think
Because when I hit Ceduna
They’ll put it in the bin.
Salads will be the way to go
Then I won’t have to cook
And I can spend my daytime travelling
And have a real good look.
I’d better get some Bushmans,
The flies were bad last time,
And I must hunt out that fly net
To make my journey more sublime.
Brutus will have a service
And I’ll replace any worn part
I don’t want a repeat of last year
When I was towed back to the start!
Well, I think that’s it, I’m ready to go
Across that long, long track.
I’m so sad to be leaving WA
But I know that I’ll be back!
The little town of Kulin is famous for it’s quirky Tin Horse Highway and today I went on a photographic mission to capture the tin horses for the 15 kilometre eastern stretch of the road. But before I show you the photos I must tell you about how friendly and welcoming Kulin is to travellers like myself.
There is a Council owned caravan park that has no, that’s right NO set price – you pay what you think it’s worth! There’s power, water, hot showers and toilets and all the sites are new concrete pads. Not only that but Kulin also has a 72 hour free stopover right in town that also has showers, toilets and a free barbeque. They really want us to spend some time in their town!
If you are looking for a coffee shop, try the Mitre 10 Hardware store! Great coffee and a small bakery there too!
Where is Kulin? Approximately 280 kms from Perth in wheat belt country.
You know there’s a sense of fun when this sign welcomes you to town!
Now let’s go for a drive down the Tin Horse Highway!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the drive down the Tin Horse Highway as much as I did!
I wrapped up 2015 by blogging some of my favourite camps during that year and now I have the opportunity to create a whole new list for 2016. But in the meantime I thought I’d share with you where I’ve been over Christmas and New Year.
I didn’t travel very far as you will see!
The yellow star shows the approximate location of Stockton Lake, the blue star shows where Lake Brockman (Logue Brook Dam) is situated and the green star is roughly where I camped on the Hamilton River.
The Western Willie Wagtails met at Stockton Lake early December and it was great to spend some time with them and share their club Christmas Party, complete with Santa.
I chose to stay on at Stockton Lake for a few days, then had a break at Logue Brook Dam which was less than 100kms away.
The Port Lincoln Ring-neck Parrots were very friendly here and I ended up with scratches up my arms where they walked all over me to steal biscuits out of my hand.
The whole area around Logue Brook was burnt out after Christmas by a raging bushfire which destroyed something like 70,000 hectares and completely wiped out the historic little town of Yarloop. I’ve duplicated the map above and put another of the fire area next to it so you can get some idea of the size of this massive fire. The fire front was about 100kms long and raged through National Parks, townships and across to the coastline. It stretched from Waroona to Harvey.
After a few days at Logue Brook Dam I headed back to Stockton Lake to spend Christmas and see in the New Year. I got the pick of the camp sites, right on the water with lovely shade most of the day. Needless to say, my camp became the ‘go to’ place for the breeze, the shade and the views.
Christmas was a very happy time, shared with fellow travellers and a wonderful family that camped next to me with 6 children. I put my present under their Christmas Tree and on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning shared with them as they opened all their presents. They were going to wake me up early so I didn’t miss out but I was up long before the kids and thought I’d have to wake them up instead. Dad Nathan and Mum Siobhan (Pronounced shiv + awn) should be very proud of their wonderful family.
Christmas dinner was shared with Solo Kev Thornton, Terry and Gay who I had met before at Oakabella Homestead and Mick, a solo traveller also. This happy crew expanded by a few more by the time New Year’s Eve came around but the wind was chilly that night so we all finished early and woke up the next day to 2016.
I enjoyed a few more days at Stockton Lake then took off to do some bush camping along the Hamilton River with Mick. It was around this time that the bushfires flared up around Harvey so got some stunning shots of the smoky sky.
Mick was great company and also a fantastic Mr Fix-It, doing a few odd jobs to my van that were long over due. We went for a drive one day to find the Black Diamond Swimming Hole, too. What a popular place that turned out to be for day trippers.
All good things must come to an end I suppose, so it was time to pack up and get myself organised for the next Willie Wagtails outing in Boddington – a great opportunity for me to say farewell to this fantastic group of people who have helped make my stay in Western Australia so special.
Thank you Willie Wagtails
The Solos of the west
The travel’s been spectacular
Your friendship’s been the best
Some of you I’ve travelled with
Others met along the track
And although I’m heading east now
I know that I’ll be back.
From the Kimberleys to Lucky Bay
West Australia is so vast
And I’ve loved every bit of it
This trip won’t be my last.
The friends I’ve made along the way
Have added to my pleasure
And now I’m leaving WA
With memories I will treasure.
From the red sand of the Pilbara
To the white sands of Lucky Bay
I’ve shared these great experiences
With Willie Wagtails on the way.
So thank you for your friendship
And your great company
I’m reluctant to depart your shores
But the east coast beckons me.
And if you travel to ‘the dark side’
I know we’ll meet once more
And Solos hugs will welcome you
When you’re on Australia’s eastern shore.
I’m back in the Lake Brockman Caravan Park ($15 a night for a powered site) after spending 4 glorious days right next door at the Logue Brook Bush Camp.
This camp is run by The Dept. of Parks and Wildlife and has recently been redeveloped, so the facilities are fantastic – clean long drop toilets, tank water, and barbeques under shelter. It’s also on Lake Brockman, which is a mecca for power boats and skiing but it wasn’t nearly as noisy as Stockton Lake which also attracts the skiing crowd.
So here’s my next Top 10 camps for 2015.
Remember, they are in chronological order, not order of preference.
11. Daly Waters Pub, Northern Territory
The Daly Waters Pub is an iconic stopover – full of character – and characters! The Bra Bar is famous, as is the Thong Tree, and they are just as famous for their Beef and Barra dinners. When you check in for a camping site you can also pay to include the meal that night, and why wouldn’t you – it’s all part of the experience! Camping was only $14 a night for a powered site. There’s entertainment every night so it was another amazing experience I enjoyed this year.
12. Parry’s Creek Farm Stay, near Wyndham, Western Australia
I had 5 most enjoyable nights here for $15 a night (unpowered). It gave me time to go off and explore the Marglu Billabong, with its Bird Hide, and get my first glimpse of some enormous salt water crocodiles sunning on the banks of the lagoon.
Margaret and Nev caught up with me here after travelling the very corrugated gravel road in – I never thought I’d here the end of it from them!
On the night of the camp oven cook out for the camp ground guests I did my bush poetry in exchange for a free meal – my first ‘paid’ performance!
It was here I also met a lovely couple, Bob and Deb, with their little dog Mollie and they shared a fantastic roast dinner with me. Bob also writes a blog and has a page dedicated to Mollie, telling about their travels from a dog’s perspective. If you want to check it out it’s called Bob’s Big Idea It’s worth it to read Mollie’s page 🙂
Margaret got some great bird photos while we were there and also when we moved on the Wyndham Caravan Park, where I once again did a Bush Poet’s Happy Hour for a couple of nights free accommodation…I could get used to this!
13.Ellendale Lake, Western Australia
I loved this free camp just off the road on the way to Derby from Wyndham. Nev couldn’t stay with us because it is a dog free zone as it is a cattle station – you’ve probably guessed that from the curious cows that invaded our camp. There are no facilities there at all so you must be self contained,and I would have gladly stayed longer but it was the final State of Origin so Margaret and I left to head into Derby after only a couple of nights. When I come back this way I will be stocked up for a week’s stay!
14.Broome, Western Australia
Broome, beautiful Broome. Booked for 3 nights and stayed for 36! I loved everything about it….
The camel ride on Cable Beach
The people I shared it with
Staircase to the Moon
My first 3 nights were at the Pistol Club as it was a dog friendly park and I was travelling with Nev and his dog Cindy, and Margaret. It was a fair way out of town and the disadvantage of a campervan is that if you want to go anywhere you have to pack up everything to move. When Nev and Margaret left to head south I did pack up everything and moved to the Roebuck Bay Caravan Park. The advantage of a little campervan is that I got into the camping area (unpowered) and this gave me the chance to get to know Broome a lot better. I looked straight out to Town Beach, there was a cafe almost at my front door and 100 metres down the road I could jump on the bus and go anywhere in Broome for $2. My camping fees were $16 per night with the 7th night free so it made it a very affordable option to stay…and stay….and stay….
15.Cape Keraudren, Western Australia
Camping at Cape Keraudren is $7.50 a night and a ranger comes around to collect the fees. There is a long drop toilet and also a dump point for black water. The beach was great for a swim when the tide was in (swam with a turtle here one day) and the company, once again, made for a great few days stopover.
It was after an incident here that I wrote my poem The Frozen Mosquito.
16.Bullara Station, near Exmouth, Western Australia
I first stayed at Bullara Station with Jose and Jean last year. Sadly, Jean passed away this year and I thought how lucky I am to be still travelling and living this wonderful lifestyle. Just Do It really has to be our motto!
It’s impossible to describe the red of the sand hills but Bullara Station is more than that. Showers under the tank stand, the ‘lavatree’ that is literally built around a tree, the great happy hour around the fire pit, the damper ….. and pleasing to see they had made some improvements to the camp kitchen this year. It cost me $24 for a powered site this year – needed power because my gas was leaking and I couldn’t use if for my fridge – but I think it was still only $14 for an unpowered site.
17. Wooramel Station, Western Australia
I was told about Wooramel Station by a couple of lovely ladies I met at Robe River, Cherri and her mother Pat who were on their way home from Broome. They travelled independently, each having their own caravan and were great company. Cherri has since joined the Solos Network that I belong to and I caught up with her again at the Wagin and Albany Rallies. They were here at Wooramel when I arrived, too.
The river is dry at this time of the year, but the birds were nesting in the trees and they have a hot artesian spa to soak away stress…stress? …what is that by the way?
It was $14 a night, no power or amenities, but a lovely stopover. I would have stayed longer but I was on a mission to get to Oakabella Homestead where I’d promised to help out Loretta while she was away on holidays.
18. Oakabella Homestead, near Geraldton, Western Australia
I had spent quite a bit of time at Oakabella Homestead last year and was looking forward to returning there and picking up my friendship with Loretta, the manager of the tours and cafe. Unfortunately we only had a couple of days together before she went off on her cruise and I was left as camp host, and unexpectedly looking after the cafe 3 days a week. That soon sorted me out – but I did learn how to make a great cup of coffee in the cafe!
Many of the solos I had travelled with from Broome and down the coast to Port Hedland came in for a night or two and there were some good happy hours as we caught up on everyone’s travel experiences. One night we had 20 vans in the camping ground.
Camping at Oakabella is $9 per person. there is no power but great showers and toilets and you can charge up phones and computers at the cafe.
And don’t forget Loretta’s legendary scones!
19.Harvey Dickson’s Country Music Centre, Boyup Brook, Western Australia
As a place to stay, Harvey Dickson’s Country Music Centre is nothing out of the ordinary – dusty sites, no power, no showers, but there are toilets! But you don’t go there for the camp site, you go there for the experience of touring through Harvey’s sheds full of memorabilia. And for Harvey, of course, who is a character who loves to share his passion for all the things he has collected.
For $5 a night and an extra $10 to do his tour, if you’re anywhere near Boyup Brook it’s a must do!
20. Maranup Ford Farm Stay, near Bridgetown, Western Australia
This has to be one of my favourites! It’s not far from Bridgetown and was recommended to me by Jenn, a fellow solo traveller. There’s always a risk recommending a place/restaurant/pub/beach to someone else, but Maranup Ford Farm Stay lived up to everything Jenn said about it. It’s peaceful, serene, beautiful birds, wonderful gardens and friendly hosts in Melva and Hugh. I keep gravitating back there if I’m in the area – why would I want to be anywhere else?
I think it’s about $20 a night for one person for a powered site and about $28 for a couple. The showers and toilets are ensuite style, there is a laundry and a camp kitchen with a bbq. Not only that, the drive there is through some of the prettiest country you’ll ever see.
Well, there you have it! My Top 20 camps for 2015.
You know, I could have picked a totally different 20 and probably been just as happy with the outcome…. but these were the first to come to mind so there had to be a reason for that! I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing my journey.
Tomorrow I disconnect from power here at Lake Brockman and head back to Collie and Stockton Lake where my journey started earlier this year. I’ve come full circle and it almost sees my time out here in Western Australia.
Who would have guessed that when I arrived in April 2014 for a 2 month house-sit that I would still be here in December 2015.
Thanks to Graham and Donna that I house sat for last year I was able to plan for the Bridgetown Blues Festival this year. Graham sends me information about events in WA that I might be interested in and the planets aligned this year to put me in the right area at the right time to enjoy this amazing weekend. And I was lucky enough to share it with some Solo friends…
There were a few of us exploring this beautiful part of Western Australia after leaving the CMCA Rally in Albany so I was joined at Bridgetown by Jolanta, Maggie, Shannon and Kerry – much more fun when you can share these wonderful experiences. And Bridgetown itself is a very pretty town and well worth a visit.
I’d only just arrived at the camping area at the showgrounds ($45 for 3 nights, showers and toilets provided) when I got a message from Janet, who was the caretaker at Salmon Gums when I stopped there earlier this year She saw me drive through Bridgetown and was keen to catch up. Well, that was easy, as it turned out I had camped right next to her! If you don’t remember Janet from my blogs I’m sure you’ll remember her dog, wee Jock, who was the subject of Max the Mad Rooter’s attention!
You could buy a ticket for all the events for the very reasonable price of around $180 but knowing I had some expenses coming up to keep Brutus on the road I opted to enjoy whatever was available for free in the street and pub venues over the weekend. There were plenty of venues and plenty of music to keep me busy! ( Should that be were or was?)
The campground was friendly and the commuter bus that ran continually for only $2 a ride ferried us back and forth to town, as it was a bit of a hilly hike from the main street to the showgrounds. So we’d wander in for a few hours, come back to the camp for some rest and recovery, then hit the venues again for the evening sessions.
The following photos were taken on Friday night at the Freo (Freemason’s Hotel). The first act, Jodie Boni, had a powerful voice and I enjoyed her music as one of the best of the weekend. And it was lovely to see her relaxing at the Cidery on Sunday with her friends and family – very natural.
Saturday was stinking hot so the air-conditioned pubs were the places to be. Steve who was camped opposite me kept me company for the first couple of hours until he went off to the paid venues to see Russell Morris and Diesel while I was happy to enjoy the cool outdoors – and even cooler music – at the Bridgetown Hotel. Mind you, I did cop a bit of flack from the other girls for ‘picking up’ a good looking fella! Later that night it started to rain so I headed home before I turned into a pumpkin and conserved my energy for another full on day on Sunday.
There was still a lot happening in town but we decided to head out to The Cidery for a casual lunch and some more great music – a perfect day. There were 2 different entertainers today but my favourite was definitely Andrew Winton. Loved his music and his friendly chat. We sat at a table right in front of the stage so got to enjoy it all up close and personal.
We didn’t have tickets for the wrap party so made our way back to camp, everyone heading in different directions when we left on Monday morning. What a fantastic weekend – good music, good friends and a great atmosphere.