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New Territory

Our last big WA adventure was a trip to the Bungle Bungles, thankfully it also marked the last of the corrugated roads. The ranges were mind blowing and worth the trek - With the range itself covering 45,000 hectares and some reaching 570m in height we decided to take in a birdseye view, maverick style! 
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Back safely on terra firma we ventured into Cathedral and Echidna Gorges, both breathtaking and unique. We could see why many refer to this area as the highlight of their travels.
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Returning to Kununurra, our traveling friends the Schwartzbord's invited us to stay a few nights with them; after the GRR and Bungles, we gladly accepted and enjoyed hanging out... 
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...even the rig got a little TLC. The boys were a great help. 
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WA has been such an amazing part of our coasting around and having spent three months here we cross into NT with mixed feelings... Still, the thought of catching up with old friends Gerry and Claire across the border kept our heads high. On the way to Humpty Doo we refueled in Victoria River - the petrol was expensive, the humor was on the house! Check out their sign. 
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As coach of the local Rugby Union team, the Humpty Doo Swamp Dogs, Gerry was in game mode as we arrived just in time for kick-off. 
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Great to see rugby still pumps through your veins Gez. We stole a cuddle from their new little daughter Bridgette, the team mascot who wears the team colours with pride. 
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Our week in Darwin kicked off in style with the Beer Can Regatta, along side the famous Mindil markets. 
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Our local tour guides took us to Litchfield NP to see Wangi falls...
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... Such a great day. Gorgeous little Matilda, their eldest daughter, wasn't the only one exhausted.
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Not sure who talked who into playing rugby the following week but both Gerry and Brad hit the paddock for the Swamp Dogs... Wish we could report no injuries - perhaps getting too old for this??? 
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Thanks for a wonderful week Gez and Claire, you made us feel so welcome. Amongst our fondest memories were the many chats we shared. Miss you guys already... 
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Time to hit the road towards Katherine and Mataranka.

Posted by Jenandbrad 04:31 Archived in Australia Tagged wa nt Comments (3)

The Kimberley

Gibb River Road

By now it was too late to question our decision to take on the GRR, it was time to farewell the comfort of bitumen road and begin the 1,500kms of dirt corrugated track - 8 gorges, 42 river crossings, 5 pools & springs and countless Boab trees over two incredible weeks. We'll share our favourite stories.
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The guy who took this photo offered his knowledge on tyre pressures - then shared his experience of three punctures on his latest trip... We saw him 70kms in with his first puncture; We felt destined to suffer the same fate.

Four river crossings within an hour and we were still a fair way off our first stop, Tunnel Creek. With so many crossings you soon become blazay; the naming of creeks made sense to us... 
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Windjana Gorge NP campsite was literally on the gorge. This is the only one the Bush Tucker Man (for those that can remember him) suggests no swimming due to the number of freshwater crocs. We heeded his advice and took the morning to walk the beautiful trail seeing plenty of crocs on the way. 
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Bell Gorge was another magic site. We began the 30min walk late in the afternoon and by sunset, had the place to ourselves. Both of us took a dip, colder than expected but a nice way to end the day after a long drive
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There was plenty to see around Charnley River, our top pick was Lilly pools. Being the only ones there, we made the most of the morning swimming, reading and relaxing. 
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Our biggest surprise packet was Galvins Gorge, only a kilometre walk off the Gibb. We weren't expecting much but the cascading waterfall, surrounded by aboriginal art reminded us just how amazing this area really is. 
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There was not a great deal of free camping along the GRR. We did find Hann Creek late one evening and awoke to this picturesque spot.
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Onto the magnificent Mitchell Falls, about 170km north up Kalumbaru Road from Drysdale Station where we unhitched the van. Rivaling the Gibb for difficulty, we reached Mitchell River NP a powerful place holding strong cultural and spiritual significance for the Wunambal people. We took our time on the 9km return hike to the falls, taking a dip and carefully crossing rushing water, our anticipation growing with every step...
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... Definitely well worth the trek and detour up Kalumbaru Road.
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Back onto the GRR it was a quick stop at Ellenbrae to sample their famous scones...
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... before settling in at Home Valley for a few days. It was the perfect place to watch the full moon rise over the Pentecost ranges. 
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El Questro station was our last stay on the GRR and other than red dust everywhere we felt happy to have survived it...
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... Or so we thought! Backing the van into a camp site a tree jumped out of nowhere and took out the bike rack and part of the roof panel. 

To help us cool off and lighten up we took a dip at the Zibidee springs.
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Along the walk to Champagne springs we came across this 1,000 year old Boab worth hugging.
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On the home stretch we visited Emma Gorge, a two hour (return) bush walk to a stunning waterfall deep within the gorge.  
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With the help of the graders, the condition of the roads was better than expected; still the GRR was tough. Like sea sickness the waves of corrugation stay with you. A mixture of good fortune and taking our time seemed to save our tyres and suspension. It's not for the leisurely traveler but the GRR is the best way to experience the true Kimberley, it has become such a highlight of our travels so far... Still, we'll be happy to stay off dirt roads for some time to come :) 
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Posted by Jenandbrad 00:27 Archived in Australia Tagged wa Comments (8)

Ningaloo

The road to Ningaloo Station was a hard corrugated drive 50km off the highway; the greatest test for the van to date. Other than a 'D' shackle that had rattled off, the rig made it in one piece. Very slow going but well worth it once we arrived... Driving through the station we noticed that wild goats outnumbered the sheep!
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More spearfishing here along with more reef sharks! This time we teamed up - Jen in her kayak above me, ready to take the fish as soon as they were speared giving the sharks no chance. 
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The remoteness, warm weather and less restricted fishing attracts people to stay for long periods. Ken and Carol, our friendly neighbours were staying 4 months through winter (some couples stay up to 8 months a year!) They treated us like family. We were spoilt with fresh fish from the days catch, master chef quality dinners and one too many whiskeys. 
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Onto Cape Range National Park, our first booking and home for the week, a beautiful campsite in Osprey.
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We crossed paths as planned with Miki and Hadas. Great memories walking the Mundu Mundu Gorge together...
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... eating together...
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... fishing together... 
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...jamming together... 
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... and checking out more locals...
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So we know that roos come out at dusk but this place is ridiculous! Check out this video to see what we mean.

The black footed rock wallaby can only be found at Yardie Creek, Mundu Mundu Gorge and Esperence. Normally seen early mornings or late afternoons we were surprised to see them out in force around midday. Well camouflaged and smaller than expected.
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We saved the $100 p/p price tag for the Yardie Creek boat tour and headed on our kayaks first thing in the morning. Traveling through the gorge was a different experience to walking alongside it. So much more activity..

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At the top end of the range we were amazed to be sharing lunch with a Dugong,  slowly making its away along the sea grass bed.

We have been blown away by this place and leave with fond memories; soon it will be time to head out via Exmouth to Karijini NP. 

Posted by Jenandbrad 21:24 Archived in Australia Tagged wa Comments (2)

Coral Bay

Before hitting the Coral Coast we spent three nights at New Beach. The original plan was an overnight stay but the waterside camp drew us in with its peaceful solitude... 
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...Or so we thought. Forced to run for our clothes during an afternoon dip, one hand waving in apology to a startled fisherman, the other covering what was left of our dignity (no photos here, you'll be happy to know). The rest of our stay was much more subdued and we enjoyed spending quiet time playing the didge, yoga, reading and swimming.
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One of first things we noticed when entering the Coral Coast was the contrast in scenery. For hundreds of kiliometers we drove through arid landscape with the odd termite hill or emu; and no signs of civilistion apart from the road, signs and livestock grids in between. Then without warning comes an oasis, Coral Bay - lush green lawns, palm trees, beautiful shallow coral and sunsets..
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It had to happen sooner or later - on reconnaissance Brad got the Prado sand bogged. It took a Ford to pull it out, much to the drivers satisfaction. Still, nice to try out the unused snatch straps and learn a thing or two...
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... No, this hill is not where Brad got bogged but we did reach the top... Just!
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The beauty of Coral Bay is that you only have to walk out to knee deep water and the fish are everywhere...
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... The Spangled Emporers were very inquisitive, attracted to our kayaks, coming right up to us.

One morning we took a stroll to Mauds Point the other side of Coral Bay; and didn't spend too much time thrashing about in the water... 
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With the arrival of Brads new speargun the hunting began with a lively first session. We travelled south by 4wd through sand dunes to Five Finger Reef. There was a young Italian couple who came in from spearfishing describing in broken english that a shark had taken their catch... twice! Mmmm not the sort of pre-dive visual Brad was after. What turned out to be a 2 metre reef shark was never far away but perhaps already full thanks to our Italian friends. With Parrot fish in tow on the end of the new gun it was straight to shore. Jen later caught a glimpse of the cheeky shark still around while cleaning the fish on the rocks. Thankfully it was us that feasted that day :) 
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It's amazing how often we are bumping into old traveling friends, this time Miki, Hadas and their four kids. Brad and Miki made the most of it by heading out together on a Whale Shark tour...
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... this was so worth taking out a loan for. So much marine life - swam with dolphins, sandbar and reef sharks, turtles (the scratches on his shell are apparently from a tiger shark)... 


... and of coarse the whale sharks...


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We met Jen, Hadas and the kids for an early dinner on the beach. Watching the sun go down, a lovely way to spend the last few hours of the day. 
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Next stop along the Coral Coast, Ningaloo Station, another remote beachside campsite accessible by 4wd. 

Posted by Jenandbrad 23:34 Archived in Australia Tagged wa Comments (1)

Great Mid West

From Perth it was onto the small fishing town of Lancelin where we caught up with traveling friends Rob and Rhonda for a little sand boarding (points off for the dismount) and a few sundowners.

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North to Cervantes and into Nambung National Park to see the Pinnacles, ancient rock formations. These incredible limestone spiers, several metres tall rise eerily out of the sand in the middle of nowhere... 
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Even the locals were queing up!
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On our way to Kalbarri we stopped to admire the Pink Lake at Port Gregory.
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Continuing on past several spectacular coastal cliffs we arrived happy to settle for three days and soak it all in. 
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Jens new toy got a workout,...
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...Brad got a kite session in and dinner was fresh and delicious.
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One afternoon mother nature, never ceasing to amaze, displayed her power with 40 knot winds...
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...followed the next morning by a sublimely calm rainbow.
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Before leaving town we had to hit Kalbarri National Park, a popular spot with good reason. Natures Window, a natural arch carved from red rock, perfectly frames the upstream view of Murchison River gorge running some 80 kilometres.. not a bad view for our picnic lunch.
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Next stop we are really looking forward to; the coral coast!

Posted by Jenandbrad 05:29 Archived in Australia Tagged wa Comments (5)

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