After the amazing Karijini we have been trekking along quite fast to get to Darwin in time for our quick flight home. We head straight to Port Hedland which is 370km north of the Karijini National Park. We weren’t too interested in visiting Port Hedland but it was State of Origin night so went in town to find a place to watch the game. Our last night in Karijini we met a lovely couple, Alana and Marcel, with a fully decked out rig. They had a chopped GU Patrol with V8 petrol motor, an automatic expanding roof top tent, custom build trailer to fit their new 4 wheel Polaris buggy (check out their insta page here). They decided to meet us for the game and brought their friends they are travelling with (funnily enough we knew mutual friends with them, so hit it off easily). A great night at the sport bar with the crew, not exploring too much more of the town as it is very sparse mining town.
Camp Location: Port Hedland Turf Club Campground
Cost = FREE (for self contained)
Travelled From: Dales Campground, Karijini
Distance Travelled: 342 kilometres
We smashed out as many km’s as we could the next day to get to Broome and ended up at a roadside stop just before 80 mile beach. The beaches along this coastline would of been great to explore but with little time to fit in our next few stops before getting to Darwin we had to keep moving. It had started to bucket down again not long after we packed up the van in the morning so we didn’t have anything else to do other than drive. The roadside stop was not the best sleep with loud trucks driving along the highway through the night but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.
Camp Location: Roadside Stop, near 80 mile beach
Cost = FREE
Travelled From: Port Hedland Turf Club Campground
Distance Travelled: 215 kilometres
The next day we finally make it into Broome, we had heard mix reviews on Broome, some say that the beaches are out of this world, we would fall in love with it, others said it was a little overrated. We were keen to check it out for ourselves, had a quick drive around town but headed straight into a free camp along Willie creek north of Broome. Willie Creek is the first camp on the way up to Cape Leveque, Broome’s version of Cape York. Once you head out of Broome and head north up Broome-cape Leveque road you will be on dirt. It is a bizarre dirt road that looks like they let the apprentice loose on the grader, a little sandy at times but we managed to get the van up to Willie Creek with no dramas. The further north you head the worse the conditions get and more remote you are. If we were just in the Troop carrier we may have shot up further north to explore but will just put that on the growing list for next time.
The journey to Willie Creek was nothing compaired to what we experience once we got to the camp. We found ourselves in a bit a soft sand, a little bogged with the van, of course let our tyres down and eventually got out. We then decided it may then be best to park up at the next camp spot about 10m away, little did we know it was even boggier and with these 2 efforts off pushing the car to its limits to get us and the van unstuck we broke the CV. So now the car wouldn’t work in 4wd or turn very well at all. We managed in 2wd to unhook the van, move our position to re-hook and get the van in a better place to stay for the night. Another testing afternoon, not one we were expecting or want to go through again but we were very lucky that Zac managed to get the car to the mechanics in town and they were able fix it in a few hours the next day.
We also were lucky to meet another couple, Elly and Steve, they came straight out of their van when they knew we were in trouble and offered their help in any way. They were a genuine, lovely couple with so many cool stories. Same age as us, Steve from Toowoomba and Elly from Maleny, also recently married (bit longer than us) but left for their travels straight after their wedding and its now been 1.5yrs. They work on the road, Elly a Nurse and Steve a chippy and have been to some amazing, remote places with lots of funny and real life situations and stories; we will definitely keep in touch.
Oh let’s not forget about the massive Bream I caught one of the afternoons here at Willie Creek.
After 2 nights here we went back into town to explore it a bit more.
Camp Location: Willie Creek Free Camp
Cost = FREE
Travelled From: Roadside Stop, near 80 mile beach
Distance Travelled: 410 kilometres
I was keen to ride the camels on cable beach in Broome but needed to decide earlier and book in, so we missed this, I would say this would be a highlight if you were visiting the area. We ended up spending most of our time around Gantheaume Point, with stunning views and crazy cool rock formations we had a great afternoon, topped it off with an afternoon platter and beers at sunset.
Elly and Steve had let us in on their secret free night stop in town, so we took that up and stayed nearby at the Broome turf club (we woke to horses trotting so it was an early wakeup for us).
Camp Location: Broome Turf Club
Cost = FREE(sneaky)
Travelled From: Willie Creek Free Camp
Distance Travelled: 42 kilometres
We feel we have gotten a good taste of Broome, and we need to keep moving so we set off towards a small town called Derby, North east of Broome. The rivers along here are meant to be great for fishing and crabbing, but you have to find the right rivers and for us that’s a big guess, especially finding one where we can stay for free. We stop in at one, park up high along the river as we are now in croc land, zac puts in a few crab pots and snags some WA Green Mud crabs, but a little undersize they go back. We didn’t mind as we were able to have a very chill arvo here, we have recently been to quite a few busy camps so we were glad that WA was now providing some more free, secluded camps.
Camp Location: Fitzroy River Free camp, Derby
Cost = FREE
Travelled From: Broome Turf Club
Distance Travelled: 161 kilometres
From here we didn’t actually know where to go, we knew we needed to get to Darwin, but what to see on the way we weren’t fully decided. We ended up checking out Tunnel Creek which was suggested by a couple of people recently, we left early as we wanted to get our drive and explorations all done in one day. So up and at it, we drive 232 kms, drop the van off at the free camp and do the rest of the drive in on the dirt road with the Troopy alone. We spot a gorge on wiki camps not too much further past Tunnel Creek so stop in there first.
Windjana Gorge was about a 3km return hike but you could do a quick loop in to check out the main gorge opening which was right up our alley for fitting everything in. Our first sighting of fresh water crocs, and they were everywhere!
Now onto Tunnel Creek, we didin’t really know what to expect, we were just told it was sick! Back in its day this was created by a rush of water that pushed its way through masses of rock and made a natural tunnel cave with amazing stalagmites, mini waterfalls and a swimming hole at the end. We took a torch in (as recommended) and lucky we did as it got very dark in some areas. We were glad we made the trip in, it was such a different experience, one we hadn’t crossed on our travels yet.
We made it back as the sun was going down and had a quiet night’s sleep at camp.
Camp Location: RAAF Quarry camp site
Cost = FREE
Travelled From: Fitzroy River Free camp, Derby
Distance Travelled: 232 kilometres
Next stop was one that I had saved since the beginning, The Bungle Bungles, I was told to go there from my bestie Jess Hehir, but was also told that the road in was very bad and long. We uumed and arrhed for a few days, mainly because of the distance in, so we thought about the extra $$ on fuel and the rough road in. But we decided to just do it, and I am so glad we did! We drove straight from the tunnel creek camp to the entry point of the Purnululu National Park (where the Bungles are), it was a bit of a dive so we camped the night before heading in the next day.
Unsure about the road still, we were prepared for a long rough drive, some say that it can take up to 3 hrs to get in, driving only 80kms distance. Yet again the Troopy prevails and takes the rough corrugation quite easy (still shaking everything to bits of course), but it’s the windy windy road in that takes the time for us, we constantly say to each other ‘surely there is a more direct route’. We manage to arrive in 1 hr and 40m, pretty good we think, proud of our efforts, we will now have more time to do a few more hikes in the national park while in here.
First stop is the famous Bungle Bungles, they are actually the name given to the striped rock formations that cover a lot of the southern area of the park. Our first hike was called Cathedral Gorge, the main hike that goes through the Bungles. It was a stunning walk, seeing up close the world heritage listed Bungles, going through the gorge into a massive amphitheatre at the end.
On my research to work out if we were going to head into the park or not, I messaged the instagram couple from ‘Coffees and Froffies’ as I saw they had just done it. They suggested 2 other hikes, Mini Palms Gorge and Echidna Chasm, so we had some time and drove around to explore them as well. These 2 were an hour drive around to the northern area of the national park, but sooo worth it!
Mini Palms Gorge we arrived at first, a grade 5 hike, 4km return and one we will never forget. This gorge is lined with the most amazing, massive palm trees, it feels like we have transported into an overseas tropical oasis. It was such a surprising experience, we were left mesmerised, taking pictures left right and centre to try and capture its beauty.
Then onto the last hike for the day, Echidna Chasm, just down the road and so different! This was like a massive crack in the side of a gorge, with skinny walkways, rock walls towering over us, we were again left stunned and so grateful to experience this wonder of the world.
Out we go, back along the long track home, we make it for a well deserved beer before the sun goes down, put our feet up and remember the amazing day we just had.
Camp Location: Spring Creek Rest Area, Ord River
Cost = FREE
Travelled From: RAAF Quarry camp site
Distance Travelled: 452 kilometres
Next stop, one we were very excited about, it actually feels weird finally ticking off our bucket list items, ‘this is really happening’, but this means we will sadly be finishing soon.
Lake Argyle, a stunning infinity pool overlooking the Ord River Dam, this however is in a caravan park, so we were also told another good free camp spot from our friends Elly and Steve, a dirt road before getting to the caravan park, surrounded by the stunning massive rock gorges.
Again we arrive, drop off our van, drive down the road and simply walk into the pool area for our long awaited swim! The water is actually quite cold but that didn’t deter us, we were finally here!
Camp Location: Dirt rd track, lake argyle
Cost = FREE
Travelled From: Spring Creek Rest Area, Ord River
Distance Travelled: 617 kilometres
We have had some long road trips recently so decide that we deserve another day to chill around here, the next day we explore the massive dam wall, and river gorge and head back for a tan and nap on the hill by the pool.
The next morning we make a beeline to Darwin, knowing we will not make it in one day we just drive as far as we can and stop in at a roadside stop before the sun goes down.
Camp Location: Bush camp just north of Pine Creek
Cost = FREE
Travelled From: Dirt rd track, lake argyle
Distance Travelled: 617 kilometres
We are glad we only have a short trip the next day, we make it to where we will base ourselves in Darwin for a week or so, and lucky us Zac’s Mum’s cousins son lives here, and they are more than happpy to have us stay as long as we need. This works out perfectly as we are only 30 minutes from Darwin city, score a lift to the airport and back when we fly home and are just around the corner from the world famous Humpty Doo hotel.
So here we are, a massive fully loaded couple of weeks, we fly out from Darwin back home for a few days to attend my nana’s 70th birthday, still haven’t packed, so I need to get a move on. We will explore more of Darwin and the surrounding national parks when we fly back, but so far we made use of being in a large town to finally refund our broken shower, refill our gas and get a brand new set of tyres for the Troopy!
A productive 2 days, but we are most definitely looking forward to seeing our family and friends again.
Camp Location: Mcmimms Lagoon, Darwin
Cost = FREE
Travelled From: Bush camp just north of Pine Creek
Distance Travelled: 180 kilometres