Category Archives: 2018 Around Australia

Narromine to Davistown, NSW – Home Sweet Home!!

Friday 29th June 2018

Well, one more day to go. It has been a big 4 days.

Our mechanic did some testing and came to the same conclusion as DB, he was disappointed he couldn’t get us going, but I had a bit of help pushing at least. So on we go again in the cold frosty foggy morning.

Decision time – about filling the car with the engine on again (like Coffs Harbour 9 years ago) or turn it off and push start it. We managed to find a service station on a little slope, parked at the bowser in the opposite direction as everyone else and decided we would do the right thing and turn the car off. Risky but hopefully it will be ok. Whilst filling the car, luck would have it, a Gas truck blocked our exit. DB asked him to move as we had to push start the car, he was obliging and entertained. We had one shot at this, hopefully it worked. Thank goodness, all the good karma from our helping out while we were away, put us in a good position and the car clutch started again. Yay!!!

Well this is my last blog. See you all soon!!

Hope you have enjoyed our 2018 travels around North West Australia. Until next travels, signing out for now. Fiona and David xxx

Broken Hill to Narromine NSW

Thursday 28th June 2018
Well what a morning. Freezing cold, fog everywhere at the racetrack, but we saw another sunrise. The facilities here were awesome for only $15 a night. Maybe we should have stayed in more of these. Also there was no noise.

So the big question is, will the car start today. We backed in to our spot but because it was windy last night we turned around to protect me from the wind while cooking dinner. We had bought petrol last night so if we start we could be ok for the day’s driving.

Lucky us, after a little fiddling the engine kicked over. Phew! On ward we go.

We were very surprised at how foggy it was and a little dangerous in regards to animals about as vision was poor. Anyway, my safety man drove as usual to the conditions and was happy sitting behind a caravan for the first bit, only achieving 140km in 2 hours. A big reduction in distance, extending our drive today or cutting it due to daylight.
We stopped at a roadside stop with a slight decline for lunch. I had to push again, but that was OK, we got going before we got to the highway. Yay!!

We stopped for the night at Narromine, cold cold cold. DB did some testing on the car and finally decided there was nothing he could do until we got home as it looked like maybe we needed a new starter motor again.  We had an interesting evening, a motor mechanic in the campground offered to have a look in the morning. So we will see what he has to say tomorrow.


Bon Bon SA to Broken Hill NSW

Wednesday 27th June 2018
Well we we make a move, we sure do make a move.

3 States in 2 days. Alice Springs NT to Bon Bon SA to Broken Hill NSW. We are well and truly on our way home.

Another big day. Up at sunrise and on our way by 7.30am. It was freezing, when David was putting down the tent he almost slipped on the bonnet of the car as it was frozen. My hands were icicles by the time we got going and that was only 10 mins from the time we got up till we left the roadside stop.

By the way, during the night the road trains sounded like jumbo jets. They were so loud, we had a not too bad nights sleep considering the noise they made.

We had a huge driving day. We made it all the way to Broken Hill 782km. The scenery along the way was changeable, with many animals along the way – emus, sheep, ravens, kangaroos – dead and alive, goats, all trying to be part of our bonnet. We only had a couple of times we really had to brake, but never close enough to be a major concern.

We made it to Broken Hill in daylight and are staying at the racecourse tonight. Fantastic facilities and only $15 per vehicle per night.

Alice Springs NT to Bon Bon SA

Tuesday 26th June 2018
So with the decision made last night to make our way home starting today, we packed up and got everything organised so we could leave first thing, that’s if DB’s solar battery doesn’t needed recharging in the morning, he really needs the sun to get going.

Well surprise, surprise, we got up in the dark and were on our way out of the caravan park at 7.18am, just as the sun was coming up. After filling up with petrol, checking the tyres, etc, we were on our way at 7.42am. We are heading south to Port Augusta and then via Broken Hill as this is about the same time and distance as going through Mildura except you don’t need to go through Sydney. David did think about going the Oodnadatta track but that was 600km of dirt road and also via the Plenty Highway but these added extra time, not what we needed when on a tightish schedule.  He really hates going the same way twice.

Well we have just stopped for lunch at Marla, the quarantine bin for NT to SA and we have done well this morning. We have 512km already under our belt at 2pm SA time with stops for breakfast and lunch. Oh and a change of driver at the border.

It’s 4.20pm we have made it to Coober Pedy. An interesting looking countryside. All little sand hills where mines are or have been. David said it looks exactly the same as Lightning Ridge except the dirt is redder in Lightning Ridge. A quick fuel stop and on we go.

We made the decision to stop due to the amount of roadkill we had seen since Coober Pedy, but made it another 180km south by dusk tonight at 6pm. We have all this junior grey nomad stuff down to a fine art (except the arrival time – between 1-3pm is not possible for us). We arrived at 6pm, DB set up the tent, I got dinner on (re-heated fried rice that I annoyingly cooked last night and fresh salmon), eaten, dishes done, and in bed by 6.45pm. Yay us!!!.

We saw some amazing Wedge tailed Eagles today, the size of them is amazing, their legs would be a long as my forearm. They were massive. Wish I could get the camera out in time, but there is always someone behind us.

A couple of DB funny sayings along the way.

I will be doing some Ultra Light backpacking research when I get home. Cutting tooth brush in half, drilling holes in everything. Have to get my pack weight down.

We have seen people with $100,000 caravans and others with $1000 ones.

There were others but I can’t remember them. He sure keeps me entertained on the road.

Alice Springs – West MacDonnell Ranges – Larapinta Day 2

Monday 25th June 2018
I woke about 5.30am as I had been asleep on and off since about 8.30pm. It was way too cold to get up, and also very dark until 7am. We got up about 8am and had brekky, chatted with our fellow campers, found out there itineraries, learnt some valuable stuff for future hikes. I was also happy to hear one of the guys say that the low side was a tough walk yesterday. yay! I am not so soft as I was feeling.

I was almost packed before DB even started. He just stood on the spot waiting for the sun to reach hime, so he could defrost before he started. It was like he was solar powered and was in need of charging. After everyone else had left and he had got enough charge, he started to pack up his stuff and I did the tent. So it wasn’t until 10am we headed back on our way to Standley Chasm. A 2.5hour 5km hike and we knew the intensity of the climbs so were not looking forward to it. Lucky we get to reap the rewards of the climbs with spectacular views. A great mornings hike, it was great to ditch the bags, catch up with last nights camp mates at the cafe. Then we headed into Stanley Chasm to see this amazing sight. This was $12 each. A lot of controversy from many people on WikiCamps about the cost and I would say we do agree. It is a 10 minute walk along a graded trail to a beautiful chasm, but the same as others we have seen for free. Then lunch time followed by a little bit of pain, trying to do rego check for the car as it is due on Friday 29th June. That’s right, this Friday coming. We tried a couple of places on the list from the RTA and no-one could lodge electronically. We then put a call in to the RTA to check if a photograph was good enough and they return our call with an automated phone call saying they would return our call tomorrow. Oh well! We tried.

Decision time. Are we getting any better at these after 3 months? Not really, but we weighed up all the options

A. if we can get the car passed we only really get another 4 days

B. what might it cost to fix the stuff they might find wrong with the car if we have to pay someone to do it, besides the $1000 for the new tyres we know we need.

Decision in the end was made to come home, starting tomorrow morning. Also that we will go hard, early and see how we go. We just need to be home by midnight Friday. We should be OK. Only 2838km to home over 4 days = 709.5km per day. I suppose that means I might have to do some driving.

Can’t wait to see you all.

Alice Springs – West MacDonnell Ranges – Larapinta Day 1

Sunday 24th June 2018
Well we have decided to do 3/4 of Sections 3 of the Larapinta Trail as a day walk. The Larapinta Trail is a 220km hike through the West MacDonnel Ranges from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder, Redbank Gorge. The section we are doing is 19km from Stanley Chasm to Millers Flat camp then the high loop to Tangentyere Junction and then return to Stanley Chasm via the low loop. A big hike but with only day packs totally doable. That is if you get started early. It was so cold this morning, like -1° we struggled to get out of bed, also as it was only our 2nd night in NT and 1.5 hours time change we didn’t wake up till after 7 when it started getting light. When we finally got going on the road it was 10am and we realised it was a 40 minute drive to Stanley Chasm to start the hike.

As we were almost there, my tour manager changed the itinerary to hiking from Stanley Chasm to Millers Flat, setting up camp then doing the loop back to Millers Flat and camping the night. Then hike the 5km back to Stanley Chasm tomorrow. EEEKKK!! this really put me in a bit of a flap as

A. We weren’t organised at all
B. My head wasn’t prepared for hiking with a heavy pack
C. It was going to take time to get packed.

Oh well. Lucky I am flexible. After a little agitation in the next 45 mins to get organised I finally got my head around it and packed my kit. Then I donned my pack and headed to sign in for the walk. DB was still getting organised. I feel like I had my pack on for another 15-20 mins waiting for him. Pretty silly as it is very heavy again. The only difference in weight for an overnight hike to a 3-4 night hike is food. Which isn’t too much.

We started off at about 12.30pm, a little late for our new itinerary. Oh well, we will see how we go. Little did we know the first section was up, up, up and up, we just kept climbing and climbing and climbing. By the time we got to the lookout I was pooped, puffing and ready for a rest. Lucky the view was exceptional, amazing, magnificent and stupendous. How’s that for a couple of adjectives. To say the least was mind glowingly beautiful. I hope you enjoy the pictures and then imaging what it was like because it was 10 times as good.

After a short rest we then headed down. Yes down, which you know what that means, another up. We walked through some beautiful countryside of the West MacDonnell Ranges. Some of it again was challenging, made even more so by carrying a heavy pack. DB kept saying “I have to get this pack lighter”, but we are not quite sure what we can do without. ON the way to Millers Flat we discussed whether to do the loop today or tomorrow morning. Knowing we had to deal with the Car Reg tomorrow we decided on today.

We arrived at Millers Flat at 2.45pm and setup our camp, had a snack and ditched everything we didn’t need for a 3 hour hike and headed on our way. We only had 2 hours 45 mins of daylight so we knew we had to get going fast.

So off we go saying we will take the high road and hike for an hour and turn around and hike back. Not what we really wanted to do but at least we would get to see the view from the ridge. The high side was very challenging. 2.5 hours for 4.3km. We now know why, we are so glad we only have a light pack.It was boulder hopping, cliff climbing up and down and very tough. Even after the tough hikes we have already done. So glad we weren’t carrying overnight packs. Almost at the top we past a young couple heading to Millers Flat who we chatted with and they said make sure we walk across the ridge at the top about 1km as the view is amazing. So that we did. It was even more amazing than the start. This moved the goalpost from about a 4km hike to an 8.3km. We had a long way to go and we were going to run out of daylight. That always causes us a problem as David starts moving quicker and I struggle to keep up, he then stops and waits till he can see me, then goes again, I then travel a little slower as I have to make my own way, even though it is a track I can’t get lost on, I have to make foot decisions which slows me down a bit. And DB gets frustrated and I could feel a NZ cave situation coming on. About 15 mins after the sunset and it was almost fully dark I had a little spat, DB slowed down a bit as he realised we weren’t going to make it before dark and accepted we just need to go at our usual pace as the track was a rocky creek bed and we didn’t need to sprain our ankles. We really thought the low side was going to be a lot easier and as we had done the high loop in 1.5 hours instead of the recommended 2.5hrs with though the low side we would do the same but it was a lot of rocky creek bed fast walking. It was also a little tough. We got to the camp at about 6.45pm. About 30mins of hiking in the dark. We made it. We now had a full camp, another 6 people.

We just had to make dinner now as we had set up the tent before we went walking. As we made dinner I realised I had forgot the measuring cup for our dinner. Oh well, guesstimate is the best we can do. It all worked out ok. With dinner done 30 mins later I headed off to bed as it was very cold, DB had a chat with our fellow on the way.

We were really warm in our tent and good sleeping bags, thermals and beanies. I had a great night sleep.

I will apologise for the number of photos, it truly was amazing, I couldn’t choose.

Tilmouth Well to Alice Springs, NT

Saturday 23rd June 2018
Well to say the temperature has changed in the last couple of days is an understatement. We have gone from a consistent 19-35° to -1.2° this morning to a top of 16°. Ouch!! David is not happy, we all know how he loves the cold, he is ready to drive to Katherine and do Kakadu instead. We will see what develops.

We struggled to get out of bed, what with the time change and the cold air it took us until 8am to get out from under our goose down doona. Once we managed to get up and move the car in to the sun to have breakfast, we started the day with a big drive to Alice Springs (170km). At least it was on bitumen, we didn’t realise it was only a single lane of bitumen, but at least it was bitumen. It was an interesting drive, as you came across oncoming traffic, someone had to give way, usually the cars to the big trucks, well that was what we did anyway. The scenery changed a little along the way, going from plains to a few mountains in the distance. It was a pleasant drive. We arrived at Alice Springs around midday, a bit too late to try and get a rego check on the car, so that will now be a job for Monday. Hopefully it passes otherwise we may have to drive straight home before Friday. We will worry about that one on Monday. After a look around the shops, we headed to our campsite. Not one for staying in the city centre, we headed out of town a bit. As the temperature was not to our liking we had an early dinner (5pm) so we could get in the car or up in to bed before it got too cold. A very good idea.

We then spent the rest of the night planning our hike along the Larapinta Trail. A tricky thing to organise as you need a drop off and/or pickup to get you to the start and back to your car at the finish. All available at a cost. David’s favourite thing, spending money hehehe. We have an option of 4 or 6 day hike. 4 day drop off is $540, 6 day is $260, not sure what the pickup cost will be we are hoping we can have our car at the finish but not sure if we can wrangle that one. We are running out of time so may have to suck it up and pay the bucks. EeeeKK!! Will let you know where we get to with that one after the rego check.

A bit of a lay day after our drive, so not much to report and some somewhat boring pics. Sorry!!

Wolfe Creek Crater, WA to Tilmouth Well, NT

Friday 22nd June 2018
Well we got up early, 5.40am, before the sun today and headed to watch the sun rise on the crater rim. It was a brisk walk/jog to the top, which we were happy to do as it was very cool. The area of the crater is about 800m wide and 60m deep, it was originally 120m deep. It has a ring in the centre which indicates extra water coming from somewhere. Will have to ask a geologist what causes that. After watching the sunrise, a few photos, a partial walk around the rim, we headed back to camp.

With 900+ kilometres to travel today we wanted to get on our way early. As we were almost ready to go, 2 caravans left. DB wanted to then have brekky as there is no point following their cloud of dust. I suggested we should go anyway and try to get passed them before the main road. So we headed off by 7am. Luckily the 2 caravans had headed to the crater first. So no need to worry about passing them. Hopefully we have got an early enough start for the ones coming from Halls Creek. They do suggest no caravans and trailers, but only time will tell how many people heed this advice.

At the start the road is very corrugated and deadly rocks all over the place. What are our chances of getting to the other side without a puncture. Fingers crossed we make it. DB is so careful when driving in these conditions. The road changes condition so many times today, as does the scenery. Even the road colour changes a lot. We even have a little respite with about 5-10km of bitumen. There are many shredded tyres, whole tyres, piles and stacks of tyres along the way, as well as burnt out cars and dead roos. I have really enjoyed the drive, with the change of scenery, but I am not the one holding the steering wheel. We even had a bit of phone service at lunch time. We arrived at Tilmouth Well at about 6.30pm NT time, treated ourselves fish and chips as it was pretty chilly and headed to bed early. We are almost at Alice Springs ready for the next adventure. Who knows what that will be.

Bungle Bungle to Wolfe Meteorite Crater National Park, WA

Thursday 21st June 2018
This morning I started with a 30 min helicopter flight over the Bungle Bungle. I managed to join a couple and their 3 year old son which made it cheaper for everyone.  The trip to the Bungles took about 7-8 mins and then we spent the next 15 or so mins over the Bungles, then the return journey. It was really good to see the diversity of the landscape and the Bungles were very impressive from the air, but I think you need to see their size from the ground to appreciate the enormity of this World Heritage listed site. Like the Mitchell Falls helicopter ride, there are benefits to both viewing options. I really enjoyed the helicopter ride, especially as I managed to be in the front as the family wanted to sit together with the rear doors off. I also enjoyed being able to see the distance and area we had hiked. It was a long way. A great experience in both instances.

Whilst I was gone, David had a reshuffle of the car to try and accommodate the new fuel jerry can without having to worry about how it was going to travel. Mr Tangram did an amazing job but it took lots of time, as we also had to tidy up and re-organise our big hiking packs. I also managed to do the washing last night as our hiking clothes were atrociously dirty.

Oh well we are ready to head off at about 12ish. So next adventure is on the horizon again. Not a day has gone by that we haven’t done something to add to our tales of the West.

Next stop Halls Creek ,which was a very little town with many Aborigines just milling around, not doing much. They make me a little uncomfortable. They haven’t done anything to bother me but in groups I feel a little intimidated. We did a few last minute groceries, filled up our tank and our jerry can ($1.80 per litre) and hope that will be enough to get us to the other side of the Tanami desert. DB looked at me funny when I came out of the servo with 2 big bottles of coke. I think he is going to need it.

As we head off from Halls Creek, David says “well we have plenty of water, enough food for a week, enough gas, so we should be ok”. We do have a hole in one of the tyre treads still and he wasn’t sure about what to do with this as they suggest 2 spare tyres and we only have one plus a broken one on the left rear. He visited the Tourist Information Centre to get all the information we needed about the track. The guy said it is pretty good, except he got a puncture right at the end. And he told David how to crack the bead of the tyre to change it on the side of the road. So off we go to Repco to buy a spare tube. $30, a bargain. Hope we don’t have to use it. Oh well, only time will tell. Off we go to Wolfe Crater Meteorite National Park.

Dirt road, heavily corrugated.

DB says “only 1000km to go”. Then not even 20km down the road, he was saying “I think we should have gone the other way”.

I said, “Turn around”.

He said “we are too far south to turn around, it is 350km back to Kununurra”. So soldier on we do. Let’s see how this adventure unfolds in a couple of days. Tonights home we hope will be Wolfe Crater Campground, before dark would be good, but not looking good. He seems a little stressed, so lets hope it goes ok. Well we stop 40km along the road to let our tyres down a bit. The first bit was quite corrugated but it seems ok. I am sure it will change many, many times over the next 2 days. I have my supply of coke ready for David as I think he will be needing it. This type of driving really takes its toll. The road trains use this road as well, so it is very, very wide but still dirt.

Off we go again, tyres down to 28 and 34 PSI. A balancing act, the lower you go the less fuel economy and with our 20 litre jerry can we have just enough to make it to the other side, so we have to let the tyres down enough to assist with the road surface but not too much to use excess fuel. There are 2 spots we can get fuel along the way but about 200km from either end, but they are not reliable sources and only open sometimes.

As we take off again, I asked DB, “Is there anything I can do to help, do you want me to watch or something”.

He said “What, you say oooh that was a sharp one, ouch look out for that one”. Not really much help.

I am not sure what else I can do to help. Maybe just keep typing my blog and not watch at all.

He also asked the guy “is it rocky?”, he said “no, no”.

DB said to me “I suppose over 1000km it could be everything – good, bad, ruts, sand, no ruts, rocks, so just everything, even 5km of bitumen. I am also worried about the road to Wolfe Crater could be 20km of smashing your car”.

My response was “Let’s make a decision about that one when we get there. We don’t have to go in”.

Now he is really going nuts, he just half swore and then said “the car seems really loose now”. Then a kangaroo jump across the road 50m ahead and he said. “No, kangaroos. I thought we would see some of them across here”. As the sun starts to go down it is harder, he also can’t see the rocks he needs to avoid as easily. I laughed. What else can you do. I think his comments will entertain me for the next 1000km.

DB said “I hope we go over the rocks in the right spot on the tyre”

I said “I just keep thinking how many revolutions the wheels have to do over 1000km” and laughed. What else can you do, as he slows down to dodge a recent roo fatality. We have seen about 3 or 4 dead roos, 1 dead cow and a couple of live kangaroos bounding across the road. As the light fades and it is almost sunset time, about 5pm or earlier today, we ponder continuing. The only problem with stopping now is we won’t manage the Crater as we want to do a really big day on the road tomorrow, so onwards we continue. We made it to the turnoff and decided to continue. Only 23km to go. The road is heavily rutted but DB is able to go between 60-80km an hour as there are no cars on the road, we both have our eyes peeled on the road and the bushes keeping a check for animals. We eventually arrive at the campsite at 5.50pm. In the dark again, and amazingly it is full. There would be more than 15 caravans/campervans in here. Mostly grey nomads. We end up finding a spot to share with a small tent. They arrive back at their tent as we are getting organised. It is 3 aboriginal young men who are working in the National Park. We apologise for setting up in the shared spot but they are fine with that. After a short chat we go about getting dinner done and setup for the night. Everything is so quick now, we have a good routine and were eating dinner not long after that.

Well it is a bit cool again tonight, so we head up to bed early, about 7.45pm. It won’t be long before DB is saying “I might just have a little rest”. Then he will be out for the count for the night. Mind you he has driven about 250km today and 150 of that on dirt road with tyre deadly rocks. So far the tyres have survived. Say your prayers for us, that they make it to Alice Springs.

Sorry about the long blog today, but it kept me entertained as we went over a stressful rocky road.

Purnululu National Park, Kimberleys, WA – Day 4

Wednesday 20th June 2018
I forgot to tell you that DB was happy we had the explore day as it was heaps more interesting than the walk in – Livistona Palms, narrow gorges, cliff climbs, water obstacles and a real adventure hike. He did say one thing though, he is worried what we will need to do for excitement once we can’t do this stuff anymore, he is hoping we won’t need to take drugs. I think we will just go on helicopters, do Horizontal Falls, dive in shark cages, etc. Also, we were quite surprised there was a total of 5 people we know of in the top end of the gorge. A couple of single tents at the mid junction just passed our campsite and a lone girl we saw on the way back from yesterdays explore trek. She was heading in on her own for 2 night. Much braver than me, I always have my guardian angel with me. And the older couple we saw at the end of yesterday who camped about 2 km back towards the start, at a spot called the Elbow.

Well, to say I had a bad nights sleep is an understatement. DB was breathing heavily like a baby.. I slept from 8ish to 9.30, then 10ish to 11, then maybe another hour after that, then I was awake until 5.30am. I finally got comfy and was in a relaxed state at about 2.30pm but do you think I could go to sleep. You would think it would be easy as we have walked so much in the last few days. 44km in the last three days with 16km to go today. Oh well. It has to be done on about 4 hours sleep. Yay!!

We got up early and packed up. Love the new tent, love my new mattress (even though I got no sleep, it was comfy, but weighs too much). Need a lighter weight sleeping bag or top cover light sheet. Always something new we need to buy every time we go on an adventure.

Anyway, we know we don’t need as much water on the way back, so instead of 5 litres each we only carried 1.6 litres and we left by 8.30am instead of 10.30am, so hopefully that helps. We are also minus a couple of kg of food each so that should make it an easier trek than on the way in. I am hoping so, as I really suffered on the way in and would like to spend more time enjoying the view instead of trudging along looking at my feet. Off we go, as it turned out it was a lot easier with the lighter pack, my improved co-ordination with my hiking poles and maybe just knowing where to go, even though it still looks different from the opposite direction and sometimes harder to find the way. We met some more people along the way and each time we stopped I removed my pack and made sure I had a whole body rest. Lesson learned on day 1. The trip out was much easier and I really enjoyed the view this time. All in all a marvellous experience.

David’s summary of the trip was that unless you did the explore day in the middle, you can really see all you need to see in the first couple of kilometres. It is a little the same for the next 8km, so I am glad I convinced him to do the explore day as that was the icing on the cake of an awesome experience and made day one of trudging worthwhile.

The young girl we met on the track today gave us some info on the Larapinta trail and inspired us to keep that on our itinerary on the way home. That was one of the only things we had on the itinerary when we left home besides competing at Aussies. So we hope to manage that next week and a quick trip to Uluru. Fingers crossed we manage all that.