The Snail Trail

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


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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.

 

 

 

The Big Crocodile, Wyndham


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Wyndham – Heading West

I stopped in Kununurra only to shop and then I was on my way to Wyndham. Between the Gibb River Road turnoff and Wyndham I saw a sign to Parry Creek Farm camp ground so I thought “Why not” and headed down a very corrugated dirt road for about 10 kms to this lovely spot where I set up camp and stayed for 6 nights.

Margaret & Nev turned up after detouring to Lake Argyle and then spending a couple of days in Kununurra. They were in time for the Camp Oven Cookout where I was the ‘entertainer’ with some bush poetry. For doing this I was given a free meal (saved $18!).

There was a group of twitchers (birdwatchers) camped here at the same time as this is one of the areas where Gouldian Finches have been seen, particularly around the Lagoon. Unfortunately they didn’t make an appearance for us but we did identify quite a few birds we hadn’t seen before and Margaret got some great  photos. I love these of the Rainbow Bee-Eater.

And this next sequence shows an egret finding, catching and eating what we think was a frog!

On the road in to Parry Creek there is a turnoff to the Marglu Billabong, which has a bird hide – and also some enormous resident crocodiles that laze on the banks (a bit too far away for a decent photo though). The very rough, rocky road takes you up over Telegraph Hill which got its name from the original telegraph station whose ruins are still there. Brutus excelled himself in 4 wheel drive, up over the steep hill and over the corrugated dirt road. The old telegraph station is only a shell now ….

…and then you are over the hill and down to the billabong.

The bird life here was amazing and through my little binoculars I could see some VERY big crocodiles – salt water ones – they’re the dangerous kind! They hauled themselves out of the billabong to sun on the bank. I was glad they were so far away!

We left Parry Creek for a couple of days in the Wyndham Caravan Park which gave us the opportunity to see some of the sights around Wyndham. It’s a funny little town, split in two parts a few kms apart – the main part where the caravan park is and then the port area. At the caravan park there was a bird feeder hanging outside the little cafe area and these bright Red Winged Parrots that Margaret photographed were constant visitors.

As with most places in the north the ground was dry and dusty but I enjoyed Wyndham and loved discovering some of its history.

The pioneer cemetery held the graves of many workers who had died during the construction of the Meatworks, which was a major industry in Wyndham earlier in the century.

The Wyndham museum is a credit to the local community. It not only has artifacts and other memorabilia of the past but dozens of books the locals have compiled with interviews of past residents which really gives you a ‘hands-on’ feel for what life was like in their time.

I was amazed to see a copy of the Instrument of Surrender of the Japanese forces here. I had never seen, or even heard of this before!

It also was a source of great horror to me with many stories of how the local aboriginals were treated during the settlement of Wyndham. Here are some snippets of info the museum had – made all the more interesting by the volunteer on duty the day we visited!

I also went to the ruins of a place called The Residency. It was built for the magistrate in 1888 but has never been lived in – he refused to go there because it was too remote and the aboriginals were unfriendly…. when you read how we treated them, no wonder! Anyhow, it was also built with the wrong mortar and it started to crumble and fall apart before anyone could live in it.

There is a wonderful lookout up a very steep and windy road with lots of hairpin bends called Five Rivers Lookout. It has spectacular views of the five rivers; the Ord, Forest, King, Durack and Pentecost Rivers; which enter the Cambridge Gulf and surrounding mangrove swamps, mudflats and hills. Brutus crept up and down this lookout in 1st and 2nd gear but I have to say the slow climb up and down was worth the views from the top.

I’ve just about given up drinking since leaving Alice Springs – you can’t buy cask wine anywhere, bottle shops are only open for short hours, there are police checking ID at every liquor outlet, and in most places you can’t buy any alcohol over 2.7%, which restricts you to light beer. When you can buy wine, it’s expensive so I just drink my tonic water and pretend it’s got gin in it …. I’m sure it’s not doing me any harm!

What’s Wyndham famous for? The BIG CROCODILE!

The Big Crocodile, Wyndham

But I also loved the Boab Trees, which will dominate our landscape for a few more kilometres yet.

The port township of Wyndham is almost deserted but it has a wonderful little cafe called The Rusty Shed which served great coffee.

Here’s a few photos of other sights around Wyndham. An interesting town and I really enjoyed my few days here.

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