Thursday, May 31, 2012

Camel signage

We only had 150 kilometres to go to reach Broome and it was good to watch
the mileage dropping. The roads were long and boring. We have a booking
for a caravan park in Broome from 1st June (the only booking we have made
since staying in Cairns and Port Douglas last July) and we were arriving one
day early. A phone call to the caravan park gave us disappointing news -
they were fully booked out and we couldn't move our booking forward by one

A few phone calls later we had a site at Cable Beach Caravan Park and will
move to Palm Grove Caravan Park (which is just around the corner) tomorrow.

One of the options for tourists visiting Broome is to join a camel trail on
Cable Beach. Lines of camels with riders are a common sight. It was great
to see the sign warning us to watch out for camels on the roads within Cable
Beach - another sign for my collection.

Tomorrow our friends, Sharryn and Garey from Wellington, New Zealand, will
fly into Broome to spend the next sixteen days with us. We are really
looking forward to their company and will spend most of the time relaxing in
Broome before heading up to Cape Leveque for five days. The forecast is for
temperatures between 28-30 degrees C and sunshine for the next seven days
and we would expect this to continue. This will be a big change from early
winter in Wellington.

Free camping at Gold Wire Stop on Great Northern Highway

After our time at Eighty Mile Beach we again hit the Great Northern
Highway heading towards Broome. There are no towns between Port Hedland and
Broome but three roadhouses for the purpose of fuel and limited food
supplies. There are a number of accommodation options for travellers from
basic camping areas at the roadhouses, some stations offer camping, a couple
of formal caravan parks (like Eighty Mile Beach) and two free camping areas.
We stopped at the second free camping area at Gold Wire. Both of the free
camping areas have recently been remodelled and they are well set up with
bitumen roads into the areas, with tables, fire places, toilets and tracks
off in all directions for camping spots.

We stayed overnight and we met up with some fellow travellers that we had
met some weeks ago at Denham/Shark Bay. It was good to catch up. We were
surprised at how many stopped overnight - around thirty groups and maybe
even more. We went for a walk just as it was starting to get dark (around 6
pm) and a number of people were sitting out around camp fires and groups
socialising. It was just lovely and no flies!

We are always amazed at how early people head off in the morning. Normally
I am still sitting up in bed and others are heading off - obviously they
have places to go in a hurry but not us. After a leisurely breakfast we
said good bye to our friends and hit the highway again - next stop Broome.

Clean up time Great Northern Highway

When we arrived at Eighty Mile Beach the caravan was really filthy. This
wasn't just due to the road into the park but by the various dirt roads we
have taken into Cape Keraudren, we had camped down by Des Grey's River,
Karijini National Park and others. The caravan was looking far from new,
and was really dirty and as the caravan park advertised that they had plenty
of water, all suitable for drinking, and the cleaning of vehicles was not
discouraged it was time to do something about it.

We had spent the previous eight days with no power and limited water. My
task was to get the washing up to date including changing the sheets on our
bed (it is always surprising to see how dirty the bottom sheet gets from our
feet, even though we ensure we wash our feet but the dirt gets ingrained!),
towels etc. As soon as the water and power is connected the washing machine
is turned on.

Next task for me was to wash the floor. Thank goodness we chose not to have
any carpet as it would be filthy. Getting and keeping the floor clean is
always a challenge with the red dust constantly being brought inside. The
dust doesn't just stick to the floor, but the venetians take a hammering
too. Within a couple of hours everything was much improved.

Peter took to the outside of the caravan and boy did it take some cleaning.
He wasn't able to do the back of the van as there were other caravans close
to us. The next day as we were leaving Eighty Mile Beach we pulled up into
one of the road train parking laybys on the Great Northern Highway and out
came the bucket and the car wash and the back of the van was cleaned, with
buckets of water from our tank thrown at it to finish the job. The caravan
certainly looks much better now.

Camping at Eighty Mile Beach

The caravan park advertise that they do not take bookings for the power and
non-power sites so we were really pleased when we were given a site. As we
were only staying one night we didn't bother setting up completely. It was
great to see some grass! The caravan park is well set out and has over 200
sites plus cabins etc. There weren't too many vacancies the night we stayed
and it wasn't surprising that the park was being extended.

Many people come to Eighty Mile Beach and stay for months on end. We spoke
to a few people who said that they had travelled up the coast for the winter
and would be staying 4-5 months. There are no shops for at least 200 kms to
Port Hedland (other than a couple of roadhouses with limited supplies) so it
was just as well the camp store stocked a few fresh fruit and vegetables and
bread in the freezer. They did make some specialty breads and it was nice
to get some fresh bread even if it was a little expensive.

Fishing is the popular pastime at Eighty Mile Beach (as swimming is not
recommended because of the possibility of salties). All along the beach
were groups of people fishing with huge rods. There wasn't a boat ramp so
we can only assume it was all fishing direct from the shore.

Driving 4wd's and four wheeler bikes along the beach was allowed -
interesting to see the distance some of the fishermen go to their favourite

Memorial to the Vietnam War at Eighty Mile Beach

The Vietnam War obviously held special significance for the owners of the
caravan park at Eighty Mile Beach as there was a very nice memorial right
beside the walkway to the beach. There were fresh flowers laid and the
memorial had a white fence around it. Rather special.

The road in and out of Eighty Mile Beach

After leaving Cape Keraudren we continued our way towards Broome on the
Great Northern Highway. We had decided to head again to the coast and stay
overnight at Eighty Mile Beach. There is a caravan park that is very
popular even though the road in is not the best. It is about eighteen
kilometres from the highway and is red bull dust and corrugations all the
way - we don't normally like taking the caravan down this sort of road but
decided to take it slowly so that we could see the beach. There was nowhere
to leave the caravan so if we wanted to go to Eighty Mile Beach it was
continue down the dust road.

The amount of dust flying up behind us was incredible and it was difficult
to photograph this to give a good indication. The slower we went the worse
the corrugations were, so we travelled between 30 and 40 kmph and the
corrugations were better but still dusty.

We arrived at the caravan park around 9.45 am and believe it or not we had
to queue behind four other caravans to register at reception. Obviously a
popular place.

Eighty Mile Beach Tracks - Not Ours!

Of course if you are allowed to drive along the beach Peter has to give it a go.  We took the car about 5-10 kms each direction from the beach access.  We stayed up near the dunes where the sand was a bit harder but it was surprising to see some of the tracks left by other vehicles.

We couldn't decide if there were a lot of older farmers who had brought their four wheeler bikes on holiday with them, or guys with plenty of cash and could buy a quad bike for their sport.  It was really interesting to see couples speeding along the beach with rods sticking out the front of the bikes.  Unfortunately my photography of one of the bikes was really poor so no photo to share - sorry.

There were certainly a good number of decent 4wd vehicles parked up along the beach with people fishing along the shoreline - deck chairs set up to help with the comfort for the hours spent in hope of getting the best fish.  We didn't see anyone pull up a fish but the story was that with the wind we had been experiencing the water was cooler and therefore no fish - nothing like it had been last week!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cape Keraudren Reserve

Yesterday we took a drive to the out of the way corners of the reserve.
Some of the tracks left a bit to be desired but we came to no harm and it
was clear that we weren't the first to follow them and certainly weren't
going to be the last.

There is a popular camping spot down by the boat ramp and here there would
be about fifty caravans and campers set up. Some of the campers are
obviously planning to stay for a long time. We took a track out to the
actual point, bumping our way up the rock track and from there we could see
the rocks out from the point. There were a few people fishing.
Surprisingly there were quite a few wildflowers growing amongst the rocks.
How they could grow surprised me.

We have really enjoyed our stay here. Tomorrow we continue heading on
towards Broome. Next stop Eighty Mile Beach.

Golf course on dry salt lake at Cape Keraudren

On the drive into the reserve the track passes through a dry salt lake. We
had noticed that a golf course, of sorts, had been built on the lake with
the red flags where each hole was flying high. We have been told that each
year a group of campers arrange a golf day - most campers join in regardless
of their golfing ability. Every car crossing the golf course is charged
$10. Players are also charged $10 and are limited to the use of one golf
club (nothing fancy and no ability required) and drinks and nibbles etc are
charged at a slight premium. Last year $5,000 was raised for the Flying
Doctors Service - what a great effort and just shows how well respected the
Flying Doctors are in this part of the world.

It is a real shame that we will be miles from here this year on golf day as
it is not for another couple of months. It would have great to have been

Sandy Bay at Cape Keraudren, WA

During one of our walks this week we made our way towards Eighty Mile Beach,
passed a few lonely fishermen, and then followed the creek up towards the
mangroves and followed one of the tracks back to the caravan. Walking on
the beach is quite difficult as there are either rocks and large shells or
really soft sand that you sink down into. None of these are great for my
knees. However once away from the water and following the tracks we were
bothered a bit by the flies and I was certainly pleased to get back to the
safety of the caravan.

The flies haven't been too bad here - just some days worse than others. We
have also had mosquitoes around 5 pm for an hour or so and today I am
covered in welts from them. So annoying! No happy hour for me tonight, not
risking another dose of bites.

The view at 6 am laying in bed, Cape Keraudren

We have found lately that we have gone to bed earlier than we would normally
- we have been reliant on the solar panel for our power for the last eight
days so we try to keep our power usage to a minimum. Going to bed early
(even if that means sitting up in bed reading with the I-pads with minimal
lighting on) means that we are awake earlier in the mornings. The side of
the caravan is towards the sea and we have a great few of the water from
sitting up in bed and can hear the waves crashing.

To think that one day in the last week I was awake before the sun actually
rose - not a normal daily event for me these days. We took these couple of
photos from sitting up in bed. Can't say I got up then, just waited for
Peter to get me coffee, and then an hour later for him to deliver the
breakfast, and perhaps an hour after that I climbed out of bed. Life is

North end of Dog Fence, Cape Keraudren, WA

During our travels we have seen the historic dog fence in various parts of
Australia. We were really surprised to see a notice that the northern part
of the fence is off shore here at Cape Keraudren.

There are lots of tracks throughout the reserve here and we have taken the
opportunity to explore some of them that are further away from our campsite
by car. The ability to follow the 4wd tracks has been necessary in some of
these areas. The tracks vary from sand to rock. We have been surprised at
where some folk are prepared to pull their caravan - up narrow steep tracks
to get away from everyone on to a point or similar. They must have been
knocked around with the wind for a few days but their views are beautiful.
Many campers come for three months or more and are well set up. We even saw
one guy who had his weed-eater along with him and was busy tidying up the
long grass around his campsite.

There are large areas of mangroves growing in the reserve and the crocodiles
are known to follow the sea water creeks up into the mangrove reserves. We
have kept well clear of this area. Some people go catching mud crabs in
these creeks but not us - can't imagine eating the mud crabs anyway.

Fishing is of course the most popular pastime, either directly from the
rocks or the beach, or from small tinnies. It must take some patience to be
out there day after day standing on the beach with rod in hand - not for me.
I much prefer the fish to come delivered on a plate, already filleted just
ready for me to cook and we have been lucky enough to get that.

We have a couple of long terms staying in our camp site - one couple arrived
in March and will stay until November and have come every year for the last
fifteen years plus. Another couple arrived about the same time and will
stay for a few months yet and they have also been coming for a few years.
Fishing keeps them entertained every day and they head out with the tinnie
on the old 4wd and come back hours later with the days catch. They have
both told us different stories, but changes for the reserve are obviously
about to happen. One guy said that the area is to be made into an Eco
Retreat and a large grant has been received from the government for this -
visitors centre and formal camping areas. The other guy said that a mine
has bought the reserve and a mining camp will be built in one area and then
a smaller section fenced off for a formal caravan park. Both of them are
disgusted with the plans. It will be a real shame whatever happens to lose
the beauty and freedom this area.

Filling our days in at Cape Keraudren

We have now been staying at Cape Keraudren for a week - longer than we
initially planned but it is so lovely we have just kept staying on. We had
a few days of wind around thirty knots and as we didn't have to be anywhere
urgently we decided we were better to stay put. Towing in strong head winds
is a recipe for excessive fuel usage and we use enough without adding to it.

We have enjoyed some great walks along the beach, around the headlands and
then back to our campsite up the tracks. The beach is quite rocky and it is
not particularly easy to walk along avoiding the sharp rocks and the tilt
down the beach. There are lots of shells of various sizes so these are
always interesting to look out for.

We have both been reading a lot - Peter is not normally as keen as me but he
has surprised us both by really enjoying reading on line. Over the last few
weeks he has finished nine books and it is not unusual for him to be sitting
up in bed at 11 pm reading away as his book is at an interesting stage. It
is a bit of competition between us to see who can finish first and with
I-cloud between our two I-pads we have the same books on line and can read
the same ones.

I have spent hours typing into the computer. Sandra introduced me to an
on-line recipe storage system (Paprika) when we were in Melbourne last
November. Since then I have had periods of typing my recipes into the
system and getting rid of all those loose pages that have been hanging
around for years. I always include where I got a recipe and it has been a
trip down memory lane as I have typed up recipes from friends and
acquaintances from years gone by. I have decided that I need to make some
of these recipes again when we return home later in the year. Hopefully
with my new tidy system they will be easy to find! I still have finished
but the pile of loose pages is much smaller.

Since we arrived at Cape Keraudren last week the internet and telephone
service has been turned on in the area. This has been perfect as it has
allowed us hours of talking on Skype and the mobile phone, and I have been
able to update the blog and not get too far behind. Peter has also been
able to spend quite a bit of time on our small business venture which hasn't
interrupted us too much from holidaying!

We have met some really interesting people since we have been travelling and
have noticed that in general people want to be really friendly. It is not
unusual for a new caravan to pull up and within minutes of them setting up
camp they come along to introduce themselves and pass the time of day. Some
of the sights on the beach are also entertaining - as I type this I can see
a guy with a long grey pony tail heading off in his speedos down the beach.
He looks way too old to be wearing next to thing. I am really pleased that
Peter doesn't think he would look like a model in speedos too.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Caravan set up at Cape Keraudren

We have chosen a campsite on a rocky foreshore overlooking the southern tip
of Eighty Mile Beach. There were about eight caravans already set up when
we arrived. The facilities are limited - just one building of three new
environmental toilets. This building had no roof on it which we found
interesting, but we were soon told that this was the result of the March
cyclone when the building was rolled some distance in the wind.

During the time we have been staying here the roof has been replaced. It
was quite windy the day they completed that work and we were a bit concerned
from a health and safety perspective whether the council guys should have
been on the end of a ladder at the roof height. Hopefully there will be no
more cyclones this coming year.

We hadn't been set up for long when one of the neighbours came along to
introduce himself carrying a large dinner plate piled with fillets of fish.
He had been fishing and as he now had six freezer boxes full of fish he
shares his catch. We had beautiful sea salmon for dinner that night!

The view from our caravan is rather lovely - the tide was in when we arrived
but we have been amazed at how far out the tide goes and as the shoreline is
rocky these can be seen far into the distance and makes for interesting

Pardoo Roadhouse, 150 kms north of Port Hedland

For travellers in the outback of Australia the roadhouses are very
important. The distances between any towns can be many hundreds of
kilometres and the only place to refuel is at the roadhouse. The
roadhouses also stock minimal food items (although the bread is always
frozen and there is no fresh milk, again a result of the distance from
town), flushing toilets (which are very popular) and at some showers are
available at a small cost. The majority of the roadhouses also have very
basic accommodation and sometimes a caravan park. Of course the price of
fuel is always higher, but at least it is available. You can see from this
photo how popular the stop is for travellers.

This is a photo of Pardoo Roadhouse which is 150 kms north of Port Hedland
enroute to Broome. There are no towns as such between Port Hedland and
Broome but at least three roadhouses along the 600 kms highway. Pardoo
Roadhouse was apparently damaged severely during a major cyclone in March
2012 and the damage can be seen to the steel brace at the top of the canopy.
Photos of the damage were also on display in the roadhouse.

This roadhouse is at the intersection where we turned to go the ten
kilometres to Cape Keraudren. Campers staying at the cape must supply their
own water, and well water can be obtained from the roadhouse after payment
of a donation to the Royal Flying Doctors Service.

Cow and sheep sign

Another sign for Jake, Tim and Zoe. Sorry about the bird mess on this photo
but I wasn't climbing up to try and clean it off!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Train engines on show Port Hedland

We have decided that Port Hedland must win the prize for the longest trains.
We are sorry that we didn't take a photo but it was hard to get the length
of the train into a photo. The trains shunted alongside the main highway
into Port Hedland. Anyone really interested in trains would have been in
their element. We did however take a photo of these engines which were on
display and Peter did enjoy wandering around them.

Shipping canal in Port Hedland

We were very fascinated with the number of ships coming and going into the
port at Port Hedland - the ships were really huge and once they had been
loaded were very low in the water. The park that these photos were taken
from was a popular stopping place for visitors and locals alike. It was
adjacent to the business part of town where the Post Office and at least
five banks were - obviously every bank wanted to be represented in town to
take care of the earnings from the mine. Besides the PO and the banks there
were only two or three eating places in this part of the town. The main
shopping was in two areas - one small shopping centre in Port Hedland where
the Woolworths was and a second larger complex in South Hedland where the
Coles and Kmart were.

Port Hedland also has an international airport - not large but busy. The
only international flights were to Bali (just over two hours flying) which
is popular for week-ends and short holidays, and then of course the domestic
flights for the fly in fly out for the mines.

We were amazed at the price of housing in Port Hedland and over two million
was not unusual for a reasonably "normal" sort of home and rents $2000 plus
per week. Housing is difficult to come by and most of the photos in the
local paper for houses to buy or rent said "under offer".

Tie down of caravans in Port Hedland

I am sure we have all heard of the cyclones that hit the coastal north of
Australia from time to time and Port Hedland is often in the path of these
cyclones. This was very evident when we saw the reasonably permanent
caravans at the Big 4 caravan park in Port Hedland all tied down. They had
between six and eight tie down points using either steel chains or canvas
tie downs.

We could only imagine what it must be like to be living in a caravan when
the big winds came through. It would be extremely scary. Fortunately for
us, we had no wind or warnings of cyclones while we were there.

There are a large number of permanent caravans in the caravan park and they
all had the vans tied down so it was obviously necessary evil and not just
someone's whim. We will be thinking of these guys when we hear a cyclone
warning in the future.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rio Tinto Salt Mine, Port Hedland

One of the surprises we both had is that salt is also mined in Port Hedland
by Rio Tinto - the salt lakes and the large mounds of salt can be seen as
you drive along the highway into Port Hedland and there is a purpose built
rest area so that visitors can get a better view.

BHP at night from our caravan at Port Hedland

This is the view that we had from the back of the caravan last night looking
over the Pretty Pool creek towards the railway shunting area and BHP plant.
Port Hedland and the mining areas around here must have the longest trains
in Australia - sometimes it is impossible to see the end of them they are
that long.

The lights certainly make an impressive view at night time. Our caravan
site backed towards the creek so we had a great view.

Animal sculpture Port Hedland

Thought you might just like to see a few more of the iron animal sculptures.