10. Broome to Bli Bli & Back Home
Ok, by the title of this post you might well have guessed that this is not one the usual blow by blow sagas.
Instead this baby covers our travels and travails during the entire months of June, July and August. Although I?ve got notebooks filled with clever descriptions of the many and varied destinations we?ve visited as well as the loads of highly hilarious people we?ve met along the way (you know quite well who you are!) I?ve decided, mostly due to extreme laziness, plus the fact that we?re almost home to knock it all off in one almighty blast.
We dashed from Port Hedland into Broome after booking two last minute spots on a seven-day sailing adventure aboard the good ship Oceanic around the Buccaneer Archipelago departing from the tip of Cape Leveque. I must mention here that this was no five-star luxury cruise. We?d heard that one of the most important items to bring along was our sense of adventure. We?d be sleeping in swags on the beach, jumping on and off boats, taking hikes to waterfalls on remote islands, visiting caves filled with ancient aboriginal artwork way off the beaten tracks and helping out the crew as much as possible. Hearing all this made The Driver even more excited to be heading off into the wild blue yonder while I must admit, it did leave me feeling just a tad cautious.
Boarding the vessel to find out we had serious engine trouble did nothing to quell my fears then spending most of our first night waiting for the tide to change in a sinking rubber duckie just above croc infested waters so we could return to the swags we?d set up on a remote beach earlier in the day gave the few sober members of our party even more cause for concern. But battle on we did and over the following week after experiencing the incredible wonders of the Horizontal Falls, Cyclone Bay, Silica Beach, Raft Island, Koolan Island, Ruby Falls and Montgomery Reef just to name a few together with a terrific crew (except for one dodgy ol? salty boatie) and a fantastic bunch of adventure loving passengers it turned out to be an amazing trip, something that we?ll both remember forever.
We returned to dry land absolutely exhausted so decided to take a long lazy break?in sunny Broome where we managed to meet up with Peter Perfect and his lovely bride, the Gorgeous Mrs G. We spent a few days together exploring the local sights including the sunsets, the camels, the cafes, the pearls and the markets. After they took off to explore the many 4WD tracks of The Kimberley we caught up with our pals in the fancy motor homes (Ian, Anita, Greg & Heather). Then after a passing suggestion from a couple of rogue fishos, (aka Karen & Dave who’d been hot on our trail since before we crossed the Nullarbour!), we extended our stay to coincide with an absolutely stunning display put on by Mother Nature herself called ?Staircase to the Moon?.
Eventually, we pulled the cover over the boat packed away our togs to go inland towards the NT border. We raced through the dry desert landscapes of Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek before stopping at the beautiful old port town of Wyndham. We spent a few days exploring the area by land and by sea and then went across to visit Lake Argyle for a few days. This stunning unbelievably enormous man made lake was once home to the famous Durack cattle station but it was flooded in the 1970’s during the damming of the Ord River, an impressive irrigation scheme developed by Kimberly Durack. The homestead was later removed brick by handmade brick to higher ground and rebuilt as a memorial to this incredible pioneering family. Today it?s surrounded by an RV resort where Grey Nomads can spend up big on sunset and lunchtime cruises before heading back to listen to country music (with CD?s and T-shirts available for purchase, of course) while they fill up on parmas and beers in the resort?s tavern.
The Driver couldn?t use their ultra steep boat ramp so we?d had enough after a couple of days and ventured out to another old cattle station that has been rejuvenated back to its former wetland life, Parry Creek Lagoon. These days its a RAMSAR rated bird watchers heaven. We were lucky enough to meet some of these intrepid travellers and learn about their craft over drinks by the pool. Its a magical place filled with incredible birdlife, loads of fish and the obligatory crocodiles. We happily filled in time out there waiting for our daughter Kristyn and her boy Tom to meet up with us on their way down from Darwin. When they finally arrived we were very excited to see that our youngest son, Drew had managed to fly up to Darwin and hitch a ride down to Kununurra with them. We all spent a wonderful few days exploring the Ord River region together.
Then, after Kris & Tom headed off to tour the Gibb River Road with their mates, we slowly made our way towards the NT border with Drew taking over The Driver’s duties. We pulled in at Big Horse Creek on the Victoria River where young Drew managed to catch his first Barramundi (not quite a keeper!) as well as spotting a number of very healthy looking crocodiles.
Next day we took a scenic cruise through Katherine Gorge followed by a tortuous 38 degree hike up to the top of Edith Falls. Luckily, we finished the day with a cooling plunge in the deep rock pools. Our next stop was Douglas Hot Springs where we soaked our aching legs in the natural thermal ponds surrounded by smooth boulders and warm white sand under the cool shade of pandanus palms. Later, we all enjoyed a much cooler night relaxing around the campfire.
The following morning we snagged a cool campsite in the lovely Litchfield National Park and spent a wonderful weekend in this tropical oasis exploring the trails and swimming in the many spring fed pools. When we arrived in Darwin we were hit by a sweltering wall of humidity that just about knocked our socks off! Even The Driver was feeling the heat, but after a quick swim we managed to cool down enough to tour the sights of this classy laidback city and finished in true Top End style watching the sunset at Mindil Beach Markets. The next day we ticked off a few more stops on the tourist trail followed by a late lazy lunch at the sailing club on the shores of Fannie Bay then reluctantly waved our baby boy off on a plane home. Then with our parenting duties over we zipped down to the Deckchair Cinema on our motorbike to catch a movie.
We spent the next week catching up in style with our old pals Keith & Wendy (& their dog, Banjo) at their beautiful property on the outskirts of Darwin. We were also delighted to meet up with their other visitors, Al & Lorelle another couple of Rye-based motor home wanderers heading north for the winter.
But The Driver was keen to get the boat wet so we finally dragged ourselves away from our generous hosts and set off to explore Dundee Beach. Over the next few days, he managed to take a different old feller out fishing each day. I thought it was a win-win, we scored heaps of fish plus some new travelling pals and I got heaps of reading done.
Then we set off towards the Daly River where we set up for a couple of days at Lee & Jenny?s Bush Camp. When we reluctantly pulled out almost two and a half weeks later we had made quite a few new friends and entertained many and varied visitors including Al & Lorelle with Keith & Wendy (plus?their boy Banjo, of course) followed by Terry &Vicki and later Stu & Rosie as well as an extra surprise visit from Kristyn & Tom.
Everyone had an absolute ball fishing with The Driver (except me, thank you very much) with most excitedly catching a fine feed of Barramundi. The extreme heat would have been almost unbearable if it weren?t for our hosts Lee & Jenny having such an inviting pool calling out to me each afternoon. They also hosted many excellent campfire dinners, which were always yum and heaps of fun, not to mention a night off from cooking!
For our next trick, we decided to try to catch up with some old travelling pals (John & Marg) we met way back on our first lap in 2014. They were hanging out near Yeppoon on the east coast. So we ducked down the centre, took a left onto the Barkly Highway and crossed the border into Queensland. Almost immediately, to my great relief, the thermometer dropped bringing much cooler nights. But as we continued inland checking out the sights of historically significant towns such as Mt Isa, Cloncurry, Winton and Longreach The Driver started to grizzle and groan not just about the lack of fishing but also the fact that he had to put a jumper on. By the time we reached Emerald, the boat trailer snapped its axle and The Driver was officially grumpy.
Luckily, John & Marg headed inland to camp with us while repairs were made. Having a drinking buddy cheered The Driver up nicely and gave me a good chance to get caught up on all the goss too! We were soon mobile again and set off towards the coast once more.
After Rockhampton, the first destination we had was the famous Bundaberg Rum Distillery. The Driver was very excited to visit and he was certainly not disappointed to have to use my tasting voucher as well as his own at the end of the tour. He didn’t ask for a mixer with any of his sample tastings and as a result, he got to drive from the passengers seat that afternoon! We spent the next few days relaxing in the quiet little seaside village of Bargara where we caught up with Bernie & Louise, some more fine Peninsula folk escaping the winter in style. Their apartment was across the road from the local golf club, so it made sense to wander over there for dinner after our happy hour around their lovely pool. ?For such a quiet little town, we were surprised at the crowds in the dining room until we discovered it was two for one night. It made us all feel like official Grey Nomads.
After that we checked out a few secluded beachside hamlets to be explored on our next lap before stopping in to visit our pals Dave & Karen (those rogue fishos) who were busily settling into their newly (more like a work in progress) renovated home in the thriving coastal community of Torquay in Hervey Bay.
We had a great time catching up with them (and meeting some of their gorgeous family) while being shown the sights of the area in style. The Driver had fun fishing and helping out with the reno?s but the highlight for me was when they took us out on their boat to go whale watching. We constantly had pods playing all around the boat. It was absolutely amazing!
Our next stop was the Sunshine Coast where it just so happens that two couples we?ve known for years have recently settled. We visited Ray & Sue in their glamourous sub-penthouse apartment overlooking the water in Maroochydoore the first day and followed that up with a tour of Ed & Marg?s beautiful new home and its surrounding resort village in Bli Bli. It was fabulous to catch up with them both and it was really hard to leave this beautiful part of the coast but we had to get home so we packed up and headed off down the Pacific Highway.
We pulled in to several small seaside towns along the coast including NSW best kept secret, Iluka. It’s?surrounded by Bundjalung National Park, World Heritage listed Rainforest, the mighty Clarence River and the South Pacific Ocean. Here we happened to bump into Al & Lee, yet another couple of Rye-ites who were escaping the grip of winter. We spent a couple of days with them and their houseful of guests in their beach cottage overlooking the marina. The Driver particularly enjoyed our 4WD-ing/beach fishing expedition to Woody Head as well as the ambience of the local pub!
But sadly we had to move on.?By the time you read this we?ll be home and hosed plus good old BounceRV will be on the market https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-automotive/rye-melbourne/fiat+motorhome/k0c9299l3001671 as The Driver is almost set to launch BounceRV MkII.
Watch this space?