Beasley River – Sun 17th May
A shame to leave Cape Range, but also a good day to do so with rain forecast. The wind certainly came in first, no need for an alarm clock to get an early start.
Driving out of Exmouth you retrace your steps south for a fair while. To head north its then a left turn onto the Burkett Road. This stretch is pretty flat and open, so with the rain setting in it felt like the clouds were squashing us into the earth. The rain was coming down hard by this time and the creeks were beginning to run, which made some of the floodways interesting.
According to the forecast the rain was meant to be restricted to the west only. 540km to the east later just confirmed its sometimes better to look out the window than rely on forecasts.
Beasley River is a roadside camp taking its name from the adjacent river. Not sure what the ranks of caravans made of us pitching up in the middle and lighting the fire pit, the best designed fire pit so far this trip. A shame the same cannot be said of the toilets, where it was hold your breath for dear life.
Karijini – Mon 18th to Tue 19th May
Heading on east the scenery just gets better, deep red ranges set off against vibrant greens. The entrance to Karajini NP from this side goes via Tom Price. The highway goes to Tom Price via Paraburdoo, the dirt road goes direct, an easy decision rewarded by incredible landscape.
As an added bonus the dirt runs past the mine for which the town exists, fascinating to see even if from a distance. We found out later the mine has taken the top half of the hill that was there, and is digging on down.
Tom Price the town looks a lovely place, not sure what it would be like to live there though. On the way in is a big yellow truck which had worked at the mine; its incredible how large these things are.
Karijini NP itself seems to be a park of two halves. The west end has an eco retreat, the east end a normal campground; we headed east. Fair to say you don’t come here for the beauty of the camp site, with the facilities (toilet, BBQ, no showers) being rather run down and the sites being in the scrub.
Where this park really shines is in the gorges cut into the rock. A short walk from camp is Circular Pool, set deep into the ground beneath a sheer cliff; in the wet this place is a waterfall, now the fall is dry and you can walk to the pool.
The pool flows down into Dales Gorge, along which a trail rock hops beside the river. It’s a spectacular experience walking along the gorge floor, and just gets better at the other end with first Fortescue falls, and then Fern Pool.
Fortescue Falls drop down into the gorge, and has created a lovely little swimming hole.
Fern Pool is culturally significant, so a place where it is best to be quiet and peaceful. The water of the pool is cold, and teems with fish which swarm around you as you climb in. A short swim away there is a small waterfall which you can sit beneath – after flowing across the rocks above, the fall is pleasantly warmer, and the pounding of the water is a great massage. Less relaxing is playing ferry to get the girls across the pool….
At the west end of the park there are various gorges, and we did not get to them all. Kalamina Gorge was beautiful, in a hazy summer afternoon kind of way. A more open gorge than some of the others and with water flowing through it was a delightful place to walk.
Jofre gorge was at the other end of the spectrum, deep with a massive cliff at its head. It must be incredible to see that fall at full bore in the wet.
Oxer lookout is at the confluence of a number of gorges, with a couple of viewing platforms perched over the edge. Alongside the platforms are a number of low metal hoops, like bike parks for very small bikes; the only purpose we could see for them was abseil points for rescue teams. It is in this area that the gorges in places get very narrow at the base, with trails threading through rock walls an arm span apart. Not somewhere to get caught in a flood, or for anyone slightly claustrophobic.
A great program the park runs is Junior Ranger, the girls each got a booklet with various tasks to complete relating to some aspect of the park or the environment. At the end they all got a sew-on ranger patch. A fantastic idea, which really got them engaged.
Less fantastic was the rain, we should rent ourselves out to drought areas as it seems to follow us. Although it pelted down it was amazing how quickly it drained away, next morning it was all gone bar a few orange puddles.
Indee Station – Wed 20th May
Heading towards to Port Hedland there is a whole lot of nothing, aside from mines, of which there are a lot. This was not one of our most interesting drives.
Indee Station is south of Port Hedland. Not somewhere to stop if it is very wet, as the road in crosses a large riverbed; however at this time of year its dry.
We forgot to ask if the station runs any animals, we certainly didn’t see any. What it does have is accommodation blocks, presumably for workers in the mines. Not a picturesque camp, but the hospitality more than compensates – as we pulled in happy hour had started, with everyone gathering in the homestead for a chitchat over nibbles and BYO.
An added bonus is Red Rock, further into the property. At first glance it is just a small red outcrop, however in certain place there are rock etchings, and the view from the top just highlights how remote this area is.
Less of a distinction is the station was the scene of an aircrash back in 1968. A flight from Perth to Port Hedland came down with the loss of all 26 aboard, Australia’s third worst air accident and the end of the Viscount 700 aircraft in Australia.
Stanley – Thu 21st May
A quick stop into Port Hedland probably didn’t do it justice. What was impressive was the level of infrastructure, with the various iron ore rail lines running to the docks. Heading east the landscape was less impressive, a purgatory for the senses; although someone had done their best to crack a smile, putting safety hats onto the termite mounds.
Although the scenery improves after a while it is nothing spectacular. Despite running parallel to the invitingly named 80 mile beach its never close enough to see anything. We found out later that in any case its not wise to swim there, too many sharks.
Stanley is a roadside camp, so nothing special, just a place to stay with toilets. It is funny though, even in the most obscure places you can bump into people with a connection; in this case John and Amanda (50 Toes Walkabout), fellow travellers from Sydney and their 3 children also enrolled with the distance education school.
Broome – Fri 22nd to Sat 23rd May
Along the road we had many comments from nomads as to how expensive Broome had become etc. Yes the caravan park was not the cheapest, but also nowhere near the most expensive we’ve had; and the town itself is delightful – small enough everything is 5 minutes away.
A highlight of Broome is Cable Beach, which nightly hosts the sunset, and for which we had the pleasure of a friend from Sydney who moved here a number of years ago – Ashley and her lovely children Airlie and Finlay. Unfortunately Ashley’s husband Phil couldn’t join us, he was off riding the Gibb River Road, on a pushbike! Now I like my riding, but that’s just a bit crazy, hope the bike had some good suspension.
A feature of the beach is the camels, which ferry tourists up and down whilst the sun drops into the ocean. It is quite the festive scene, with cars parked all along the beach, enjoying the sunset with a drink and a picnic.