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.

 

 

 

Oakabella Homestead, Western Australia


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Two Weeks in a Few Words – After Leaving Port Hedland

I’ve had a bit of a break from blogging over the last 6 weeks so thought I’d better catch you up on where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing…. I have not been stationary ….Far from it!

The first stage of my journey south from Port Hedland took me to some wonderful camping spots, most of which I didn’t photograph – I think I was suffering from technology resistance! Anyhow I’m over that now, so here goes. I was on a mission to get to Oakabella Homestead, between Geraldton and Northampton as the manager, Loretta, had asked me to be camp host for a couple of weeks while she had a break from the daily grind. Here’s my trip from Port Hedland to Oakabella.

Port Hedland to GeraldtonI travelled this 1607km journey in 14 days and during this time split with my travelling buddies as they went inland to Karijini National Park and I hugged the more direct coastal road.Some of my stop overs included a free camp at Yule River, where I was greeted by a happy little dog that looked vaguely familiar. Sure enough it was Pip, who led me off to see her owner Laurie who was camped here too. José was travelling with me to Karratha, Faith was travelling with Laurie, so we had a good night around the camp fire catching up on who had been where since leaving the rally in Penola.

Yule River Western Australia

Jose lights a great camp fire at Yule River

Yule River was a good camp so I decided to stay a couple of days. JosĂ© left to visit her son in Karratha, then Laurie and Faith left and I thought I’d have some time by myself and stay another day…..uh oh, is that Glenys pulling in? So much for time alone but it was wonderful hearing all about her overseas travels and looking through her photo book. After a coffee at Whim Creek together the following day she headed south and I meandered to my next stopover at Cleaverville, just north of Karratha. The Whim Creek Hotel has only recently re-opened and offers free camping overnight in the grounds. It’s a busy pub with a miner’s camp adjoining it.

Whim Creek Hotel, Western AustraliaSo many of my friends had stayed at Cleaverville that I was looking forward to some time there. I checked in with the caretaker and asked for recommendations on where to camp. “Just over there would be a good spot” he said, ” and there’s another lady over there who is travelling by herself”.  I followed his directions, set up camp, walked around to the other side of the shrubbery – and there was Robyn. Our happy hour together was even better when a fellow camper gave us 3 mud crabs to feast on – yum!

On the way to Cleaverville I detoured to the historic town of Cossack.

After 2 nights at Cleaverville I was on my way again, next stop Dampier where I caught up with Robyn again. It was full moon and low tide so she offered to drive me to Hearson’s Cove to see Staircase to the Moon.

My next stopover was another great free camp at Robe River where I once again caught up with Laurie and Faith. It was here that I discovered I had a major gas leak so I wasn’t game to turn my fridge on. Fortunately it was fairly bare and the nights were cooler so nothing spoiled but it did cut short my stay as I had to plug into power to keep the fridge running when I wasn’t driving so I pulled in to an old favourite, Bullara Station, for the night. We had damper around the campfire and I offered to do some of my bush poetry so it was a great night and I met lots of new people. Here’s a reminder of what’s on offer at Bullara Station, on the way to Exmouth, with some photos from last year’s visit.

My original plans were to bypass Exmouth but the gas leak forced me to change those and I thought I was lucky to find a gas mechanic who promptly came to my van, did a few things, took $50 for his trouble and declared the problem solved. What a relief! I took off for another old favourite,14 Mile Beach (Warroora Station). The drive in was horrendous, 23 kms of rough corrugation but I thought I’d have about 3 nights there so it made it worth while. Imagine my horror when I turned on the gas at the bottle and I still had a gas leak! No fridge again! And the thought of turning around and leaving via that same rough road the next day caused a few bad words to escape my mouth – glad there was no-one camped nearby! To focus on the positive I wrote my poem, The Frozen Mosquito, which was the subject of another blog entry.

The next day I got out the compressor, let down the tyres, put Brutus into 4WD, and tackled the trip back to the main road. Letting the tyres down is easy but pumping them up at the other end was a time-consuming and dirty job, however it did make the 23km journey a lot more comfortable so it was worth it.

Next stop Carnarvon – and a gas repairer. This time I struck gold, (and parted with some), but drove away with a new regulator and NO gas leak. I’m a happy girl!

My last stop before arriving at Oakabella Homestead was at Wooramel Riverside Retreat. What a find! It has hot artesian tubs to relax in, native birds nesting in the old river gums – and Cherri and Pat who I had met at Robe River were there too!

Oakabella Homestead, Western AustraliaMy life of leisure was over for a couple of weeks as I settled in to life at Oakabella Homestead. I got more than I bargained for as I ended up opening the cafe 3 days each week when Loretta found herself short staffed at the last minute. The only things on the menu when I worked, though, were tea, coffee and scones, which were already prepared and ready to heat and serve! I did learn how to make a good cappuchino! By the time Loretta’s holiday was over I was ready for mine – not used to this working caper.

In the words of Willie Nelson ……I’m on the road again……