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    10th to 13th Days

    Aug 16, 2017, 9:50:17 PM

    Saturday 12 August to Tuesday 15 August 2017

     

     

    PURNULULU

     

    We were up early, but I had a few things to do- first of all was to try and repair the water pump. I pulled it apart, found the cause of the leak and fixed it. And all the other leaks that I found.  However, the hand pump still didn't work but the electric pump now worked without leaking.

    Next I checked the wheel bearings on the van and the noises I had heard the previous day were gone. Seems it was dust in the brake area. We topped up the water tank, got some supplies and headed off to the Bungle Bungle ranges (Purnululu) where we are spending four days. 

    We arrived at the turn off after a little only 200 Klms and two hours driving. Only 50klms to go , and what a 50 Klms it was. It took about 2 and a half hours with numerous twists and turns and plenty of water crossing. Plus we came across a dingo on the side of the road who quickly disappeared when we made eye contact. We got to the Rangers Hut and paid 4 nights camping fees and set off to find a site. We found one and it is one of the best sites we have used in a National Park. Private and plenty of space. It also has views across the northern Bungle Bungle range.We set up camp, which wore us out because of the heat, so had a rest with plans to photograph the setting sun over the Bungles from a nearby look out.

    We took off at 5pm because the sun sets at 5.30 but alas was too late. Because of the ranges, the sun goes behind the Hills at 5:00pm. As we drove along we could see the brilliant red hughs of the Bungles but were not in a position to photograph it. We’ll come back tomorrow so proceeded to the lookout to check vantage points.

     

    The next morning we decided to visit Echidna Gorge  which is a walk up the valley floor then through a rock cavern to the gorge. To get the best colour you need to be there between 10 and midday. The walk up the valley had little shade and the sun here is unrelenting . There is no cloud cover whatsoever, and with 30 to 35 degree temperatures little wind and 0 humidity it saps your energy very quickly and dehydration can become an issue. The walk as about 2 k return and I drank all of the water I had with me being 1.6 litres and really it was not enough. Without water you would not last long in this country.

     

    The gorge was spectacular. We reached the end and sat there for about an hour and watched the sun gradually descend and light up the gorge and reveal the colours. Fantastic. We walked back out and did another short walk then headed back to camp for a late lunch.

     

    (Today I met one of the local aboriginal rangers and he explained that the dreaming story for this area related to the palm trees that grow out of the rocks in this area. It is to do with a long time ago echidnas burrowing under the Bungles and their spikes are the palm trees. He also told me he has never seen an echidna in the area in his life except a dead one.)

     

    After the echidna walk we went back to camp had lunch and decide to rest up and the head up to the lookout for the sunset shot. We got there in time but there was a lot of smoke haze and not as clear as the night before. We got some good shots and lamented on what it could have been. As that famous Australian philosopher Tony Abbott said a few years ago “shit happens”. It's the only slogan he has used that most probably has some truth to it, but it is only 2 words.

     

    Monday we were up early and decided to explore the southern area of Purnululu. This is where the famous beehive domes are and about 50 Klms from our camp. Again spectacular, but the walks here have no shade at all. We did the Dome walk and then scouted some vantage points to do a sunrise shoot the next morning. We got back to camp at 4pm with me buggered again. 10 years ago I would have done it all before breakfast and then more in the afternoon, but I am quickly coming to the conclusion that at 75 those days are over. While I rested Louise did some scouting about and found a new vantage point for sunset shoots that was very close to our camp.

     

    This morning we were up real early (4am) and headed out to get the sunrise shots, however, in the dark could not find the vantage points we had picked. That's ok we just played it by ear, found a few spots and got some hopefully stunning shots. Once the sun had risen we had breakfast  and the headed off for several walks, the first being the Cathedral Gorge walk. The walk in was fairly easy as the sun was not fully up and the huge domes provide some relief. We got to the end of the gorge to find this huge cavern like cathedral and just sat there in silence and soaked up the atmosphere. We had beaten the crowds so could really get the feel of the place. Majestic, spiritual, grand are all words you could use to describe it but none suffice. While the photos are great they don't do it justice either. Just with the whole of Purnululu you have to visit, soak it in to  get the full experience.

     

    We walked out and I was finding the going a bit difficult because of the heat so missed the other two walks we had planned. It was just too hot.

     

    We returned to camp where I had a sleep for about 3 hours.

     

    While having lunch two aboriginal rangers came by. I went over to them and asked if this was their country and when he replied yes and why there was there was no information at all of aboriginal heritage for the area despite aboriginal association to this land for over 20000 years.

     

    I should have guessed. Politics. It appears that the language groups in the Kimberley's did not mix in the past. Governments being what they are choose the easiest solution and appears that the group in the area would not work with the  yes minister group from further north ( just as they haven't for over 20000 years). So they have been totally cut out of the process and aren't even part of the Kimberley Land Council. Because of the politics, government has decided just to ignore their history as if it didn't exist. They also have the longest running native land title claim which has been going for over 30 years. So the rich history of the people of this area including massacres, rich rock art and rock peckings is being lost unless something changes real soon. (Pecking said are where the person chipped the outline of the drawing and then filled in the middle by chipping out more rock. They are only found in Mutawintji National Park north of Broken Hill and those have been carbon dated to over 40,000 years old and we have privaliged to see them. The only other place you find them in Australia is here.)  To lose that history in my book is sacrilege and government should fix it. To exclude a group because they don't follow the yes men is not the way to do it.

     

    The last thing I should mention here is the dust. As I said before there is absolutely no moisture in the air. If you huff on your glasses to clean them nothing happens. So the dust permeates everything, every nook and cranny and ends up in places I'll let your imagination think about the possibilities. Normally coiffured  and spotless Louise looks like she's been rolling in the dirt with the local station dogs.

     

     

    We are up early in the morning for the trip to Kunanarra and a long hot shower. After 4 days we need it.

    we are staying in Kununarra tonight and then tomorrow going out to Lake Argyle for 3 nights and more than likely be off air for that time. Until the next blog.

  • These blogs will follow our progress as we leave Scone in NSW and head to the Kimberelys in northern Western Australia for a bucket list photographic tour. We will visit the Kimbereleys, Pilbara and hopefully the wild flower regions of WA then head home across...

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    Day 8 and 9.

    Aug 11, 2017, 7:54:00 PM

    Thursday and Friday 10 , and 11. August 2017 

     

    Thursday

     

    Got away from Tilmouth Wells at about 8.30m for the long hall to Halls Creek, although we know we won’t make it in one day and will have to bush camp along the way. We might make Wolfe Creek but I doubt 

     

     

    The road out of Tilmouth is sealed for about 80klms so the first part was easy going. After that it is dirt and corrugations but when we got to the dirt bit  it was in fairly good condition and we were able to sit on 80klms an hour. We stopped at the settlement at Yuendumu. To have a look at the cultural centre and art work. Unfortunately it was closed. This town is home of the Bush  Mechanics made famous by the ABC show. I believe they have made a new series but it hasn't aired yet. The town also had mobile phone coverage so I was able to update our position on exploroz’s map tracking site and check in on Facebook.

     

     

    Returning to the Tanamai we dropped our tyre pressures down to make the ride easier over the corrugations.

     

    The rest of the day was uneventful and the scenery is not much to write home about. At about 4pm we decide we had better start  looking for a spot to camp 

     

     

    then I noticed the sun was still high in the sky.   We crossed the border and gained 1 1/2 hours. At about then 599 Klms mark we found a little layback that's had been used to gather gravel for the road so drove in and set up. Also emptying our jerry cans into the tank. 

     

    It was a lovely peaceful camp but as soon as we had dinner we were into bed as we had been on the road for 9 hours. 

     

     

    Friday

    Well early to bed early to rise and we were on the road at 7.30am. Again fairly uninteresting scenery, more of the same. However there was a highlight when we had to give way to a big brown snake crossing the road. The amazing thing about these creatures is how quickly it turned when it sensed the movement of our vehicle. We then arrived at the turnoff to Wolfe Creek. Turning in it was 18klms to the crater. Very stunning but when you have been to the Breakaways it can be a bit ho hum but something else to tick off the bucket list. 

    Today as Louise is driving I was able to pair through Airdrop the iPad and iPhone so I can place photos in the blog. These are iPhone photos so not hi resolution. To night when are at Halls  Creek I hope to down load the photos (some 600) from the Nikon’s.

     

    One thing we have noticed is how much warmer it has become. Last night it was sheet only and a blanket pulled up in the early hours. Today is very warm most probably around 35 degrees so I think for the next few weeks it will shorts tee shirts and thongs. We don't miss Bleakheath.

     

    After booking into the caravan park we went out to the China Wall. It is a quartz rock structure made by nature. The photo below will give you an idea why it is called that.

     

     Act really posting this I have found that the blog does not allOw photos so I will upload them onto the websits and you can have a look in there. The gallery will be called th e Kimberley's.

     

       

  • Days 5 to 7

    Aug 9, 2017, 4:09:36 PM

    Day 5

     

    7 August 2017 Monday

     

    Woke to a very clear morning even if it was a bit cold. As the sun rose it warmed up very quickly.

    We packed up and headed towards the Information booth to find out about the Breakaways. I had never heard of them let alone seen any photography of them. A brochure at the caravan park caught my eye and we just had to go and explore. There was a loop road that would take us out of Coober Pedy, through the Kanku-Breakaways and then back onto the highway 20 ks north. It cost $10 for a permit that funds the conservation area maintenance. We happily paid and the guy behind the desk said “now go out on the highway and travel 20 ks north and then turn off”. Up pipes me “ I thought I would go out on the loop road” . “Why in the hell would you do that” he replied. Don't you want to be surprised by the splendour when you get there”.

     

    We followed his instructions turning off the highway as directed and the 17 kilometre drive along a dirt road through flat uninteresting country and suddenly out of nowhere we came to a cliff and there was the splendour. Words can't describe the feeling. I posted some iPhone photos on my Facebook pages and they do not do the scene justice. I will upload some pics onto my website from the Nikon when I get a chance to process them. We spent 2 hours driving around stunned by the spectacular beauty of the place. Part of the area is like a mars landscape and has been recognised as the most like mars landscape on this planet.  Also parts of Thunderdome and Mad Max 4 were filmed there. But the strangest thing is I don't remember seeing any reference to this place in any landscape photography sites or books. It would be magic to photograph at sunrise or sunset. We will come back one day and do it as we just don't have the time this time. 

    As for the rest of Coober Pedy you can keep it. Outside the caravan park there was nothing of interest.

     

    We have been monitoring our fuel usage and doing some tests before we head on the Tanamai where we will be doing 1200 Klms between fill ups. On the first day averaging 100 Klms an hour we used 17.7 litres per hundred. Next day we dropped back to 90 Klms an hour and the usage dropped to 16.7. Yesterday we dropped down to 80klms an hour and consumption came down to a very respectable 14.4. So guess what speed we are doing today.  The savings over the 23000 Klms of this trip will be quite substantial and most probably adds 30 minutes to travel time each day. So we are re ally becoming the 80kph grey nomads.

     

    Anyway we arrived at Marla at about 3.30pm and booked into the caravan park and set up in a lovely private spot and cracked a few coldies. Marla is a service town and nothing else. We watched the moon rise in the clear outback sky and had dinner and turned in for an early night and an early start in the morning.

     

    Day 6 and 7  8 August 2017 Tuesday and Wednesday

     

    Up early and boy have we got the pack up down to a fine art. We were on the road at 8.30am.

    The drive from Marla to Alice was pretty uneventful and really nothing to report except that at 80 Klms an hour our fuel consumption is down to 14 litres per hundred kilometres. We arrive in Alice at a little after 3pm and booked into a caravan park we stayed at 2 years ago when we did the Simpson Desert . We got the last space and the town was booked out.

     

    After setting up we were straight into town to resupply. And then back to the caravan park a few  coldies and then dinner. We have decided that in the morning we will not rush, get refuelled and fill the jerry cans as the next leg is 1000klms up the Tanamai through the desert. We are now doing the first leg to Tidmouth Wells where we stay the night, double check all equipment before the rough part starts. We will also have free wifi so I will upload these blogs as that will be the last chance until we get to Halls Creek.b

     

     

    We have arrived at Tilmouth W Ellis and what an oasis it is and free wi fi to boot but no phone. Oh well in the desert you can't have everything. It is a nice balmy 28 degrees so there will be less blankets on the bed. Tomorrow we start the real adventure as we head up the Tanamai. We will be off air for 2 or 3 days until we get to Halls Creek, so until then. This afternoon we are just vegging out.

     

  • 2nd to 4th Day of the big WA trip

    Aug 7, 2017, 7:08:41 PM

    4 August to 6 August 2017

     Day 2 was pretty uneventful on the road to Broken Hill. Stopped at BH for some supplies (read beer) and then on the road to Peterborough. Got to Oarly which is a blip on the map with a pub(sort of) and a rest area with facilities so we stopped and set up for the night. Rain was starting to close in and the wind was howling . Well we thought looking at the front entrance to the pub which said “open and warm log fire” we will duck over there and watch the swannies play The Cats. Problem was the door was locked and there was no sign of life anywhere. Plan 2. Early dinner and early to bed and read. And watch the scores on the app. At least we had one bar phone reception.

     At about 6pm a semi and pilot truck pulled up. The lady who was driving the pilot van came over for a yarn. I asked where she was from “ no fixed address” she replied.  Although I do own a house in Perth.  Turns out she and her husband are on the road all the time with him driving the semi with her the pilot warning vehicle as there specialise in long or over wide loads.

     As soon as we were snug in bed suddenly the pub lights went on and two trucks pulled up with the occupants disappearing into the pub. We were snug and warm and it was bloody cold so we stayed put . Anyway the night was not a waste of time as the Swannies won.

    We slept ok despite some road and train noise as the stop was between the Barrier highway and the main western rail line. 

    We were up before dawn next morning to a minus 2 temperature and the wind. Quick breakfast and on the road to Port Augusta. That trip was also uneventful as we had spend four days there two years ago so we just filled up with diesel and the up the Sturt Highway to Woomera where we arrived just after 3.30pm. Stayed at the caravan park which though basic was clean and comfortable and two beers cost $7. What more do you want.

    We are now on the road to Coober Pedy where we will stay tonight before we head to Alice where the real adventure begins.

    As we are driving along these treeless stone filled plains commenting how barren it is suddenly there is a sign saying photo opportunity. We pull up and there in the distance is Lake Hart. I only know that because Facebook told me.

    Well Facebook was wrong as we has just come to Lake Hart which is a massive salt lake. The other Lake was Island Lagoon. Pays to check the Hema maps.

    Finally arrived in Coober Pedy at about 3.30pm and booked into the Big 4 Caravan Park. We heard that they had great Pizzas.

    Well what a great place. Everything you need and a camp kitchen that was huge and had every home facility including top of the range stove and oven. We had pizza for dinner and it was great but my eyes were bigger than my tummy when I ordered a large.  In the morning we are going out to see the Breakaways so won’t make Alice tomorrow. We did a drive around Coober Pedy and it was a jumble of a place. White Clifffs was far more interesting. While sitting in the sum sucking on a beer the cops came around and asked us to ensure we locked everything up. They were having trouble with young kids watching the caravans and when someone went to the toilet ducking in and stealing what they could get. We took the advise and had no issues. 

  • Day One

    Aug 7, 2017, 5:59:41 PM

    Thursday 3 August.

    Well the day has finally arrived. Up e a rly to finish the packing, move a tree (don't ask) and get on the road.

    We were meant to leave the previous Sunday, but with me getting the flu during the move to Scone saw the leave date being put back and back.

     

     As well well had an issue with our Patrol after an exhaust gas temperature monitor was installed which was showing unbelievably high temperatures when doing 100klm an hour. A visit to Nissan led to a suggestion that we get the Vehicle onto a dyno and check the motor out as it was a new vehicle with only 12000ks on the clock and things did not look right.  So on Wednesday after some twisting of arms of  DieselCare Tamworth they agreed as a special favour to look at the truck on  Wednesday  and fully check things out for us. Turns out the Redark gauge was faulty that was doing my head in as it was over  200degrees over in its readout. That wasn't $500 well spent. I will be having some discussion with them about the gauge not being fit for purpose. Anyway while at DieselCare we had a Steinbauer chip unit installed which has made towing the Tvan a breeze. After the first 800 kilometres i can say with certainty it was money well spent. Wayne at Diesel care was a champion and wears very grateful for his help. Highly recommend him.

     

    The drive to Cobar was fairly uneventful except for good Steady rain between Gilgandra to just past Nyngan. However it came back with a vengeance at about 6pm with gale force winds just as we were preparing dinner. And it was freezing. Luckily we had got a powered site so connected up our little heater and we were snug and warm in our tvan. We don't the miss tenting.

     

    We were up early after a very comfortable night and got away from Cobar by 9.00am. Bit slow for the first packup but will  improve as we sort things out.

    Today we head for Broken Hill and then down to Peterborough. I don't know how far we will get but will only pass through BH as we had to spend a week there a couple of years ago. We may free camp along the road tonight.

    I'm writing this while Louise is driving and she keeps hitting bumps so excuse the spelling and punctuation. We also have he iPod going with our extensive collection of 80’s music ….. rocking while we roll.

     

    I suppose that what being a grey nomad is all about. Anyway until the next post all enjoy working as we are enjoying the country of the free.