The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere


2015 Road Trip – Part 2

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.

IMG_5779 Lake Brockman

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

Sunset Camel ride, Broome, WA

Isn’t this is a great shot!

Broome, beautiful Broome. Booked for 3 nights and stayed for 36! I loved everything about it….

The history

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.




Staircase to the Moon


Goodbye Broome – Hello Barn Hill

I finally tore myself away from Broome after staying there for 36 days, my longest stop anywhere except for my house sits. When I went to the office to say goodbye they expected I was going to book in for a few more days again, but I assured them I would be back next year. I loved it!

This map shows the first part of the trip to our next major destination, Port Hedland. It’s only about 600 kilometres to Port Hedland so you can see we didn’t get very far on Day 1!

Broome to Barn Hill

Here’s a couple of things I did in Broome that I haven’t shared with you yet ….

I was lucky enough to be taken out to Willie Creek (thanks Geoff Phillips!) on a very rough road that I probably wouldn’t have driven on with Brutus, my trusty campervan. Mick, who I have been camping with also came and on the way there Geoff gave us a Cooks tour of Broome, the port area and Gantheaume Point.

One of the highlights was seeing the famous Staircase to the Moon. A group of us went to the Mangrove Bar, known as one of the better viewing spots, and it didn’t disappoint. Even though we took everyone’s advice and got there early we didn’t get a front position but as the moon rose over the mudflats to create the Staircase effect the crowd made room so that most people had at least a photo opportunity. We may not have had prime position but we did have a table to sit at and enjoyed drinks and nibbles while we waited.

I have seen some beautiful photos of Staircase to the Moon that absolutely kill anything I was able to capture on my iPhone but this is my proof that I was actually there!

The following night we watched this natural phenomenon from the park next door to our camp where the night markets were being held. Another wonderful night, good atmosphere, good company and good fun. (And yummy food from the market stalls, too)

The last weekend I was in Broome there was a writer’s festival called Corrugated Lines. There were so many activities organised but I chose to go to see Di Morrissey, author of many Australian based novels but particularly Tears of the Moon, about the history of Broome and the pearling industry. It was one of my inspirations for wanting to go to Broome. The session she did interviewing Sally Bin Demin, who was raised at Cape Levique and Broome was so relaxed and friendly it was like sitting in a living room listening to two people chatting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course I bought Sally’s book at the end of the session, Once in Broome, and got it signed by Sally, a truly remarkable lady with a great sense of humour ….. so interesting!

While in Broome we had many happy hours together on the beachfront at Roebuck Bay Caravan Park. Could life get any better than this?

I was so lucky to be able to camp in the ‘tent’ area at the Caravan Park. The photos of happy hour show my view each day from my camp site and as a bonus I had red-winged parrots nesting in the hollow tree next to my van and one day a Tawny Frogmouth got disoriented and spent the day beside me too.

Mick and I left Broome on a Friday morning and after some shopping and washing our vans we headed to Barn Hill Station. It was only about 140kms away but after being stationary at Broome for so long that was far enough to drive in one hit.

Barn Hill Station

Everyone I have met talks about Barn Hill and I decided it was a ‘must do’. At $25 a night for an unpowered site it had to be something special, and it didn’t disappoint. The beaches were beautiful and the cliffs on the edge of the beach were quite spectacular.

On one of the walks along the beach we came across this water python that had literally bitten off more than he could chew!

Water Python

Greedy Water Python at Barn Hill

We tried to pull the fish out of his mouth and only got the first few inches out so he was either very hungry or he’d estimated his prowess to be greater than it was in reality!

One of the other highlights was bumping into Joy and her partner Michael, heading north while we were heading south.

Sunday night at Barn Hill is a roast dinner where everyone takes their chairs and tables down to the lawn area and sets them up for a feast. We had a huge crowd on our table as you can see in the photo and Joy and Michael joined us, as well as Peter and Penny who were camped nearby. The more the merrier!

After 3 nights at Barn Hill we were in travelling mode, so set off to our next destination, Cape Keraudren. We’ve got a bit of a tag along going as Dave, Anne, Mel, Nola, Mick and myself all left Broome around the same time, all heading in the same direction. We are all Solo Travellers, each of us with our own van, and it is wonderful to have the company of like minded friends. It certainly makes for some fun happy hours!

Cheers! See you down the track!

Broome Museum


Broome – Buttons and Bombs

You’re probably wondering what the connection is between buttons and Broome. Well, before Broome became famous for its beautiful pearls it was just as famous for its mother of pearl shell. As a matter of fact, Broome used to provide up to 70% of the world’s pearl shell.

The Broome Museum is a wealth of information about the pearling industry that put Broome on the map and it is both a romantic and tragic history. For the romance, read Di Morrissey’s book, Tears of the Moon, which although a novel has been researched well and captures the spirit of Broome’s history. For the tragedy, dig a little deeper on the internet – or visit the Broome Museum – and learn how the pearling industry claimed hundreds of lives as it evolved from ‘naked diving’ to the sophisticated methods used today.

The industry suffered from a high death toll, with hazards from shark attack, cyclones and frequently, the bends. Four tropical cyclones hit the area between 1908 and 1935 and over 100 boats and 300 people were lost during that time, as evidenced by the numerous graves in the Japanese cemetery in Broome.                                                                                        (Source Wikipedia)

I found this great, very readable site about the history of Broome that you might like to visit – Broome History – A Captivating Tale

The museum also opened my eyes to the devastation Broome suffered as a result of World War 2. Many people died in Broome  and one of the saddest stories is of the women and children evacuated from Indonesia who were aboard the flying boats when they were bombed by the Japanese at the Broome wharf. Here’s how it’s described in the website recommended above…

Broome and its port were undefended when they suffered the second worst air raid in Australia’s history (Darwin of course suffered the worst) on the 3rd of March 1942. The Japanese shot down a plane carrying wounded which had just taken off heading for Perth. They went on to destroy 15 of the Dornier flying boats anchored in the shallow bay. Most of the flying boats were filled with refugees, mostly women and children, many of whom died either immediately or swimming through the burning oil… And finally the Japanese bombers turned to the airfield, where most of the planes were destroyed. When they finally left Broome its buildings, vehicles, and even the ocean around the bombed boats were burning. 24 aircraft had been destroyed and 70 people killed.

Can you remember having mother of pearl buttons? The advent of plastic buttons killed off this major Broome industry and led to the growth of cultured pearls.

The plastic button sealed the fate of the Mother of Pearl industry, but not the fate of Broome. Experiments with cultured pearls had been under way for many years, and again it was the Japanese who perfected the process. The results were phenomenal.

Broome pearls mature in 2 rather than 4 years like Japanese pearls, and they are also twice as big. 20 years later the town produced up to 70% of the world’s large cultured pearls. It continues to be one of the world’s major suppliers for quality pearls today.

When I catch the bus in to Broome from the caravan park at Roebuck Bay we pass a beautifully haunting statue erected as a tribute to the aboriginal women divers and indeed all women who waited for their pearl divers to come home and who made a contribution to the Broome pearling industry.

Women of Pearling Statue    The statue of an Indigenous woman coming out of the water with a pearl shell also seeks to acknowledge those who were exploited as divers along the coastline south of Broome during the ‘blackbirding’ phase. “Blackbirding” was  the forcible kidnapping of Aboriginal women to pearl luggers, where they dived for pearl shells in deep water, often without breathing apparatus. Unsurprisingly, many of the women drowned.

In the heart of town there is also a statue of 3 men who contributed to the foundation of Broome’s pearling industry. Broome Statues

The statues commemorate Broome’s pearl divers, pearling masters and crews and pay tribute to their contribution to Broome’s multicultural history.  The three statues are a tribute to the establishment of the Kuri Bay pearl cultivation project. The figures depict Mr T Kuribayashi (founder of project), Mr Keith Dureau (1st managing director) and Mr H Iwaki (searched the project site). 

There’s a lot more to Broome than camels and Cable Beach!

Sunset Camel ride, Broome, WA


Broome – Beautiful Broome!

“Broome – Beautiful Broome!”

I’ve been waking up every day since early July and saying these words. I feel like a traitor to my state of Queensland because I want to say “Beautiful one day, perfect the next”, but that’s exactly what Broome is like.

Broome Western AustraliaMy first few days I was at the Pistol Club, which is an overflow camping ground on the way to the port and a fair way out of town. It was also ‘dog friendly’ and as I was still travelling with Nev and his little dog Cindy we couldn’t stay anywhere in town. Nev, Margaret and I got out and about thanks to Nev unhitching the 5th wheeler. One of our first visits was to the Pearl Luggers – after all, that’s what Broome and it’s pearling history is all about.

Nev also took us out to the Port, Gantheaume Point and the lighthouse.

Cable Beach, BroomeAnd sunset at Cable Beach is obligatory when in Broome! We enjoyed lovely take-away fish and chips with Geoff Phillips out the front of Zanders Restaurant as we watched the sun disappear into the sea.

A few dusty days at the Pistol Club and then Nev and Margaret decided to continue their southerly journey….but not me! I thought there had to be more to Broome than what we had experienced, so I moved into the Roebuck Bay Caravan Park at Town Beach, set up camp in a great spot overlooking the beach and booked in for 3 nights. That was on the 15th July and it’s now the 31st! I don’t want to leave!!

I can catch the bus anywhere I want to go, there’s a coffee shop right in front of my camp, there’s some great fellow campers around me and a few Solo Travellers have turned up too. Not only that, my lovely step-sister Juanita, and her husband Barrie, are staying at Cable Beach Caravan Park so we have really enjoyed catching up for coffees, a Cable Beach BBQ and a camel ride.

Juanita and I decided to do one of the sunset camel rides after admiring them on the beach. There are three companies that offer the camel rides, the Blue Camels, the Red Camels and the Yellow Camels. We booked on the Yellow ones as Steve, the owner, followed my enquiry up so I figured he deserved the business!  It was great fun and I have loads of photos to share with you here. The cameleers took our phones and cameras and took pictures throughout the ride, and some of them are really fantastic.

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Tomorrow night is Staircase to the Moon and there’s a crowd of us going to the Mangrove Bar, where we will sip exotic cocktails as the didgeridoo plays and the moon rises slowly over the mudflats to create Broome’s famous ‘staircase’.

Broome – It just keeps getting better!