Monthly Archives: July 2013

Lake Argyle WA to Timber Creek NT

Last night was quite different to previous nights as there was no cooling breeze to off-set the heat.  It made getting up early just that bit easier, and we were fully packed up and on our way by 8.30 am.

Leaving Lake Argyle we again marveled at the spectacular scenery, especially as we made our way back to the Victoria Highway.

On the Road Again

On the Road Again

Spectacular WA Scenery

Spectacular WA Scenery

Back on the highway it was only a relatively short distance to the WA/NT Border.  It was totally underwhelming!  Whereas all traffic going into WA was stopped and searched by quarantine people, apart from having to slow down to 80 kph, we just kept driving into NT although we did stop for a photo opportunity.  Although the roads aren’t wonderful and are quite narrow and winding, the speed limit in NT is 130 kph!  Crazy!

WA NT Border

WA NT Border

130 kph Speed Limit in NT

130 kph Speed Limit in NT

 

Our first morning break was at Saddle Creek Rest Area, which had been recommended to us by fellow travellers at Lake Argyle.  We would definitely stay here.  We also had a quick look at the East Baines River Rest Area which was also recommended and it looked very suitable for free camping as well.

Morning Break at Saddle Creek Rest Area

Morning Break at Saddle Creek Rest Area

 

The scenery in NT is spectacular but has changed from what we had become used to in WA.  For a start, the mountains seemed to be formed differently and the rocks appear to be quite different.  Plus there is what seems to be “normal” grassland which would seem to be suitable for grazing, and we did see some large herds of cattle.  As in WA, there are also signs of huge burning off which usually seems to promote new green growth.  Ant hills (or maybe termite mounds) are everywhere, as are those peculiar looking boab trees.

Spectacular NT Scenery

Spectacular NT Scenery

Grasslands not Rocks

Grasslands not Rocks

Burning Off

Burning Off

 

Our final destination for the day was Timber Creek, which is only a small place but has two servos and two caravan parks, plus a few assorted shops.  As we are close to the Victoria River, the caravan park is green and tropical.  There is even a swimming pool here, although there are also crocodiles around so we don’t think we’ll be going anywhere near the water despite the 30+ degree heat

We have spent the afternoon under the awning with a cool drink and a good book, still wondering what the time is.  It’s tough being a traveller sometimes!

Arriving at Timber Creek

Arriving at Timber Creek

Caravan Parks Backs on to Victoria River

Caravan Parks Backs on to Victoria River

We Won't Go Swimming Here!

We Won’t Go Swimming Here!

 

Tomorrow we will be heading North East towards Katherine, and may, again, be out of phone and internet contact.

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure | Tags: ,

Lake Argyle – Day 3

We were in no real hurry to get started today so after breakfast I had another go at reducing the pink hue of the Ute and Fifth Wheeler, while Ann did some washing (which was dry in a couple of hours).

After lunch in the fiver, we joined the “Kimberley Durack Sunset Explorer Cruise on Lake Argyle”.

WOW !!!!!

Things started off with a very informative DVD on the construction of the Ord River Scheme way back in the 1960s and 1970s.  How visionary those responsible for this project were!  Kimberley Durack first proposed a dam on the Ord River in the 1950s on the Durack family’s Argyle Station.  It took a while to get underway and the experts who were brought in relocated the dam wall a little way from the originally proposed site, but the foresight to build this project was quite incredible.

After the DVD we boarded a bus for a quick drive over the dam wall with further expert commentary from John, the driver and then disembarking from the bus and boarding the “Kimberley Durack” tour boat at Bamboo Cove.

Graham, our tour guide, was extremely knowledgeable about the Ord River, the general Lake Argyle area, the irrigation and hydro electric programs and more, plus he showed us a few of his wildlife friends along the way.  He also showed us some photos he had taken during the “double wet” in 2011 when they had twice the usual rainfall and staff were trapped at Lake Argyle Resort for 10 days.  He had some great real life stories to recount which made the tour all that more interesting.

During the cruise we had afternoon tea and later stopped so several hardy explorers could go for a swim in Lake Argyle.  We also enjoyed nibbles and a glass of champagne whilst watching the sunset.  Strangely, there was Telstra mobile phone reception out in the middle of the Lake some 30 km from the Argyle Diamond Mine but very few passengers had bothered to take their phones with them.

Then it was back to Lake Argyle Resort where we enjoyed a “Christmas in July” roast dinner with trifle for desert.  We finished the evening off with an extended chat to some fellow Victorian travellers who are going in the opposite direction to us.  It was great to be able to swap notes as to what lies ahead.

Finally it was back to the fiver for coffee and an early night.

Lake Argyle Tour

Lake Argyle Tour

Wildlife

Wildlife

Lake Argyle Tour

Lake Argyle Tour

Wildlife

Wildlife

Wildlife

Wildlife

Lake Argyle Reflections

Lake Argyle Reflections

Lake Argyle Serenity

Lake Argyle Serenity

Lake Argyle Tour Passengers

Lake Argyle Tour Passengers

Lake Argyle Tour Passenger

Lake Argyle Tour Passenger

Sunset at Lake Argyle

Sunset at Lake Argyle

Sunset at Lake Argyle

Sunset at Lake Argyle

Sunset at Lake Argyle

Sunset at Lake Argyle

Sunset at Lake Argyle

Sunset at Lake Argyle

Sunset at Lake Argyle

Sunset at Lake Argyle

 

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure | Tags:

Lake Argyle – Day 2

Another day in paradise on Saturday!  We made a leisurely start and did not much at all before lunch.

After a delicious lunch in the van, we jumped into the Ute and went for a bit of a drive around paradise.  Lake Argyle is huge and there are a number of lookouts and other opportunities to view the wide expanses of water that just seem to go on forever.  All against a spectacular rocky landscape over a billion years old and a beautiful clear blue sky.

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle - Dam Wall

Lake Argyle – Dam Wall

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle - Rear of Dam Wall

Lake Argyle – Rear of Dam Wall

 

Later in the afternoon we visited the Argyle Downs Museum.  The original Argyle Downs Homestead was built by Patsy Durack in 1895, and the Durack family played an important role in the development of this area.  The homestead was relocated to it current site in 1971 to avoid being flooded by the waters of Lake Argyle.  Apparently every rock was numbered and transported in 44 gallon drums and then the homestead was painstakingly reassembled to the original plans using the original materials.  Even a number of historically significant headstones were relocated.

While we were at the homestead there was a visit by several members of the Durack family, several of whom now reside interstate and overseas and including Donald Durack who was just a youngster when the site of the original home was flooded.  He gave the volunteer guides a bit of a thrill by identifying events in several photos that were on display – apparently his brother had taken some of the photos and Donald was able to recall where and under what circumstances the photos had been taken.

We later gave Jan, another visitor to the homestead, a lift back to the caravan park and she told us that she had bought several books written by members of the Durack family and had had them signed by Donald and other members of the family.  She was very excited about her day.

Argle Homestead

Argle Homestead

Gravestones in Argyle Homestead Garden

Gravestones in Argyle Homestead Garden

 

On our return to the caravan park we sat outside and enjoyed some live music in the beer garden over a cool drink or two before Ann whipped up another delicious dinner in the fiver.  One great thing about this place is that there don’t seem to be the annoying flies and mozzies that we have found at other places, so sitting outside is generally very pleasant.

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure | Tags:

Kununurra to Lake Argyle

After another glorious warm starry night, on Friday morning we packed up and were ready to hit the road early.

We turned off the Victoria Highway about 35 km from Kununurra for Lake Argyle.  The scenery for the next 40 km or so was spectacular, and being behind a slower vehicle meant that we could get a decent look at our surroundings.

By 10.30 am we were booked in at Lake Argyle Resort and Caravan Park, unhitched and having a cuppa under the awning.

And that’s pretty much all we did all day except go for a walk around the caravan park!  When you’re in paradise, doing nothing much is a great thing to do.

The Lake Argyle Resort is quite large and offers waterfront sites, luxury cabins, eco-tents, plus standard cabins and other powered and un-powered sites.  It has great facilities and serves as the base for many of the cruises and flights around the Lake.  Fishing is a popular pastime and quite a number of caravans and motorhomes in the caravan park have come equipped with boats of all sizes.  The caravan park is actually the site of the work camp built for the construction of the Ord River Dam, and is now being further developed for tourism.

We really do have a fantastic site here but most sites are great and there has been a lot of planning and infrastructure invested in this Resort.  All of this complimented by temperatures in the high 20s, clear deep blue skies, tropical gardens, sensational views and good friendly company. The only down side is that there is no mobile, internet or TV reception.

We have promised ourselves that we will come back here again!

Interesting Facts:

  • Lake Argyle is classed as an inland sea, covering over 1,000 square kilometres, and up to 2,000 square kilometres at flood capacity!
  • Lake Argyle is the largest body of fresh water in Australia and the largest man-made lake in the Southern hemisphere.
  • It was formed by the damming of the Ord River in 1971 and acts as a reservoir for the irrigation scheme in Kununurra.
  • Its hydro-electric plant supplies power for Kununurra, Wyndham and the Argyle Diamond Mine.
  • It is estimated to contain 25,000 crocodiles, 26 species of native fish, and one third of Australia’s bird species.
Turn Off Victoria Highway

Turn Off Victoria Highway

Magnificent Scenery

Magnificent Scenery

Magnificent Scenery

Magnificent Scenery

Magnificent Scenery

Magnificent Scenery

Set Up at Lake Argyle Resort

Set Up at Lake Argyle Resort

Bar & Beer Garden at Lake Argyle Resort

Bar & Beer Garden at Lake Argyle Resort

Infinity Swimming Pool at Lake Argyle Resort

Infinity Swimming Pool at Lake Argyle Resort

 

 

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure | Tags: ,

Dunham River Rest Area to Kununurra

We needed the doona again last night but by 7.30 am it was starting to warm up considerably.

One advantage of yesterday’s long drive was that we didn’t have too far to go this morning to Kununurra.

Dunham Creek Rest Area at Sunrise

Dunham Creek Rest Area at Sunrise

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

 

There was only one minor snag – we didn’t actually have anywhere confirmed to stay.  Ann had made calls to several caravan parks from Broome and most had said that they would fit us in somewhere, but the story had changed when we actually arrived today and there was apparently nowhere for us to stay.  One factor is probably that next week is the Kununurra Show – something we hadn’t anticipated.

However, a phone call to the Kununurra Tourist Information Centre was answered by a very helpful person who did a ring around and called back in a few minutes with a place for us at the Discovery Big 4 Caravan Park on the lake.  What fantastic service and what a fantastic spot it turned out to be!!!  We would recommend this place to anyone as the staff could not have been more helpful!

Bridge Works Entering Kununurra

Bridge Works Entering Kununurra

Just Unhitched at Big4 Kununurra

Just Unhitched at Big4 Kununurra

 

After 3 nights free camping, which features quick showers in the fiver, we took the opportunity to treat ourselves to long (normal) hot showers on arrival – and Ann could use her hair dryer!

After this we headed off into town for a good look around.  It’s an interesting place and a bit bigger than we thought, with some great looking schools and community and sporting facilities.  Ann drooled window shopping in the Argyle Champagne Diamond shop.

For lunch we headed off to the Pumphouse Café which is in walking distance from the caravan park.  The building was the original water pumping station for Kununurra but was decommissioned in 1972 when the Ord River Scheme was expanded.  We were amazed at the hundreds of fish to be seen from the balcony – not to mention the breath-taking views over Lake Kununurra.  This really is a tough life.

Hundreds of Fish at Pumphouse Cafe

Hundreds of Fish at Pumphouse Cafe

Views from Pumphouse Cafe Balcony

Views from Pumphouse Cafe Balcony

Pumphouse Cafe

Pumphouse Cafe

 

Back at the caravan park we joined other travellers by the lake for Happy Hour which seems to start at about 4.00 o’clock here.  We enjoyed drinks and nibbles by the water and were joined by George, the resident fresh water crocodile.  Boy were the cameras snapping then!!  No-one was game to even consider a swim after meeting George.

Don't Swim Here - Crocodiles in the Water

Don’t Swim Here – Crocodiles in the Water

George the Crocodile

George the Crocodile

Ann and George

Ann and George

Closeup of George the Freshwater Crocodile

Closeup of George the Freshwater Crocodile

 

It is just after 9.00 pm as I write this and we still have all the windows open as it is still a very pleasant 25 degrees.  Oh what a life!

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure | Tags: ,

Mary’s Pool Rest Area to Dunham River Rest Area

After another cold night we awoke to a glorious morning at Mary’s Pool.  While we were packing up to leave, a 4 wheel drive Kimberly Wild tour bus arrived as part of their authentic early morning activities.  Unfortunately they chose the wrong place to park today as while drinking their billy tea the tourists had a great view of a large fifth-wheeler (not ours) pumping out their black-water tank into the dump point.  Very authentic!

Packing Up at Mary's Pool Rest Area

Packing Up at Mary’s Pool Rest Area

Leaving Mary's Pool

Leaving Mary’s Pool

First stop for the day was for coffee and to refuel at Halls Creek, where we took the opportunity to visit the Tourist Info Centre and also have a bit of a look around town.  I was partly interested because one of my nieces (with her father) had lived and worked here for several years not too long ago.

On the Way to Halls Creek

On the Way to Halls Creek

Cattle

Cattle

Cattle Yards

Cattle Yards

 

From Halls Creek our next intended destination was the Spring Creek Rest Area which we thought might be a potential overnight stop.  No way José, so we continued on.

The next potential free camp was the Muluk Rest Area, where we actually stopped for lunch.  However there was really only one decent spot, which was already taken, so we somewhat reluctantly hit the road again.

Driving today has been pretty much the same as previous days, with more single lane bridges, plenty of ant hills of all sorts if shapes and sizes, cattle (some in yards today), some horses roaming free, and, as always, beautiful mountainous scenery.

It was, however, somewhat disconcerting today to see smoke directly ahead of us on the highway, and eventually to be on both sides of us, with the roadsides still smouldering.  Speaking to a fellow traveller, he wasn’t at all concerned and just said it was the locals burning off!  The big thing is that there never seems to anyone actually looking after the fires.  In Turkey Creek they were even burning off their nature strips, again with no-one in attendance.

Smoke Ahead

Smoke Ahead

Burning Off

Burning Off

Mountain After Burning Off

Mountain After Burning Off

 

Our next possible overnight stop was the Doon Doon Roadhouse and Caravan Park, but as we arrived the signs indicated that the caravan park had closed.

By now it was getting quite late to be driving, although the scenery was still amazing.  Places to stop are rather spread out around here.

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

 

So we headed on up the highway and finally stopped at the Dunham River Rest Area in the Bungle Bungles, where we simply slotted into a great spot and had a chance for a quick sit outside before it got too dark.

Today was the furthest distance we have driven in a single day so far this trip, but all’s well that ends well.

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure, Free Camping | Tags: ,

Ellendale Rest Area to Mary’s Pool Rest Area

Monday night was a starry, starry night, so we spent a fair bit of time outside checking out the Milky Way, Orion’s Belt, The Saucepan and all the other constellations we learnt about in primary school.

The downside of a clear and starry night is that it inevitably leads to a freezing cold night – which it did.  So it was back to the doona on the bed.

After a comfortable night in the fiver we eventually got up and organised and hit the road reasonably early (for us).

First stop was the Ngiyali Roadhouse in Fitzroy Crossing for fuel, then a visit to the Fitzroy Crossing Visitor Info Centre, which we found to be surprisingly interesting.  Then back to the van for a cup of coffee.

Crossing the Fitzroy River

Crossing the Fitzroy River

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

Fantastic Scenery

 

We then headed back to the Great Northern Highway for another planned stop at the Ngumpan Cliff Lookout Rest Area.  After a minor diversion off-road we got to the lookout to find that it was closed for roadworks.  We later heard that the rest area was going to be re-bituminized, and it will be fantastic when finished with great views (if not a bit exposed).

Final stop for the day was the Mary’s Pool Rest Area where we settled down for the night.  Fortunately we got there quite early so we had our choice of sites and were able to secure a site facing the right way, in the sun (ie to charge the solar panel) and level.  As this was a short driving day, we had plenty of time to walk around and explore the area, and then relax with our books.  The weather was fantastic, in the high 20s.

Mary’s Pool is almost perfect for free camping and we will certainly stay here again if we are back in this neck of the woods.

Entry Road to Mary's Pool Rest Area

Entry Road to Mary’s Pool Rest Area

Mary's Pool

Mary’s Pool

Mary's Pool Rest Area

Mary’s Pool Rest Area

Mary's Pool Rest Area

Mary’s Pool Rest Area

 

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure, Free Camping | Tags: ,

We Have Internet – Today

We have just arrived in Kununurra after 3 days free camping with only scratchy mobile reception and no Internet access at all.  Will get things up to date later today.

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure

Broome to Ellendale Rest Area [Fitzroy Crossing]

Great weather was forecast for Broome today, and even better further east.  It was time to move on so we headed east along the Great Northern Highway.

Several things struck us about today’s drive, including:

  • Cattle – there were many more cattle along the road today than we had seen previously, although very little in the way of road kill.  They must breed them smarter in this neck of the woods.
  • Ant Hills – they were everywhere in all sorts of shapes and sizes from football size to distorted sumo wrestler size to cattle size and even cemetery headstone size.
  • Roadworks – there was plenty of activity on the roads and we had to stop and wait several times.  There were massive graders, huge side operating tip trucks, and other machines cutting the grass and clearing bush on the sides of the road.
  • Single Lane Bridges – we crossed over two single lane bridges which surprised us considering the amount of traffic on Highway 1, and the disruption they caused to traffic flow.
Cattle & Ant Hills

Cattle & Ant Hills

Single Lane Bridge Ahead

Single Lane Bridge Ahead

On-coming Traffic on Single Lane Bridge

On-coming Traffic on Single Lane Bridge

Road Sign (and Boab Tree)

Road Sign (and Boab Tree)

Erskine Range

Erskine Range

 

First stop for the day was the Nillibubbica Rest Area.  Another designated free camp with a maximum 24 hour stay, this was well set up with undercover shelter, toilet, dump point, and space for plenty of travellers.  Great spot.

The Boab Rest Area was similar and would be a great place to stop.  We wanted to get a few more miles under our belt so we just had a quick meal break but there were others already setting up for the rest of the day and night.  Highlight of this particular rest area was the huge Boab tree in the centre.

Our final destination was the Ellendale Rest Area, which is about 90 kms East of Fitzroy Crossing.  Although we arrived at around 2.30 pm space was already at a premium and we were probably the second last van in for the night.  But what a spot this is!  We set up the awning and spent a very relaxing afternoon in absolutely perfect weather conditions (mid 20s, slight breeze, great views and a magnificent sunset).

Morning Stop - Nillibubbica Rest Area

Morning Stop – Nillibubbica Rest Area

Lunch at Boab Rest Area

Lunch at Boab Rest Area

Overnight at Ellendale Rest Area

Overnight at Ellendale Rest Area

Sunset at Ellendale Rest Area

Sunset at Ellendale Rest Area

Still living the dream!!!!!

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure, Free Camping | Tags: , ,

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