With about over a week now under our belts, we were getting the campervan routine smoothed out from making the beds, drawers and cupboards organized (well, kinda), checklist before hitting the road (i.e. gas turned off, water pump off, drawers locked, etc), and sharing driving time (stay on the left side AND shift with the left hand!). The sleeping in the van is still something we are trying to get used to. Far from being comfortable, but camping is really the cheapest and best way to see the West Coast of Australia. We were also finally able to use up some rice, pasta, coffee, and polenta that had made their way here clear from Spain, as well as using some spices from Africa and palm sugar from Cambodia. Needless to say they tasted a bit “journeyed”.
We crossed the border to Western Australia (WA) state, home of the Kimberleys, and had to make sure we got rid of our fruits and veggies as they quarantine them at the border. The landscape changed quite a bit as we made our way into WA and appeared more arid and we noticed baobabs more frequently. We headed for a small town called Kununurra and spent the next day and a half lounging by the pool of our campground and trying to decide what to do next as a lot of sightseeing in the area necessitated a 4X4 or lots of money for organized tours.Above: Baobab tree in town. Below: rainbow in Kununurra Below: we enjoyed some of the road signs we’ve seen…Below: unfortunately lots of road kills in WAOn the advice of our campground manager, we decided to take a sunset cruise on Lake Argyle. Lake Argyle is one of the biggest man made fresh water lakes in Western Australia. With a surface area of over 1000 square kms and a shoreline stretching 900 kms, the lake is home to more than 30,000 freshwater crocodiles (the nice kind), 6 species of native fish and plenty of birds and other wildlife.Above and below: Lake Argyle Below: we couldn’t pay for the cruise so James had to drive the boat 🙂We had a friendly “kiwi”for our guide who did a fantastic job providing informative commentary and fun side notes along our boat ride. We started by looking at the dam wall and then cruised out to a bay of islands. We spotted some wildlife (fish, freshwater crocs, and wallaroos) and snacked on some nibbles provided by the crew.Above: our friendly kiwi guide Above: freshwater crocodile, notice the long snout. Very different from the salties. Below: wallaroo, cross between wallabie and kangaroo?The best part of the cruise was the swim…yes the swim…apparently the fresh water crocs don’t mind people and so as the sun began to set we all jumped in for a swim in the very warm (29 degrees) freshwater lake while enjoying a drink.Below: drink in hand floating awayThe next day, we decided to drive the sealed part of the famous Outback Gibb River Road that led to Emma Gorge in El Questro Wilderness area, a pretty gorge complete with waterfall and pool. We hiked for 45 mins and took a refreshing dip (the water was slightly cool) upon reaching it. We saw many toads in the water but they did not seem bothered by us. Again we lucked out timing wise as along with just one other couple, we had the gorge and pool to ourselves. Some day we would like to come back and rent a 4X4 to really do this area justice. There are so many areas and roads that are 4-wheel drive only, it was a shame we had to pass them up! We then continued our drive towards Broome, our next main destination and stopped for the night at Halls Creek in a dumpy campground. Not many choices in this rather unwelcoming town, so we had to settle for the least dumpy of the 2 campgrounds in town. The nice surprise was the temperature – this was the first night it cooled way down and the temperature we guessed was well below 20 degrees celsius. Yes, happy again!
We looked for brumbies (local wild horses) on the way as we had been told they hang out in the area but unfortunately only saw one dead on its back on the side of the road.. very sad… probably hit by one of the many roadtrains we had been encountering since the beginning of our journey.Above and below: roadtrains, scary to cross and even scarier to pass The next leg of our trip took us through Fitzroy crossing, a rugged little town on the Great Northern highway with a large aboriginal population. We only stopped there to refuel before continuing towards Broome. Once in Broome, a major town in Western Australia and almost the half way point of our West coast Australian journey, we settled for a couple of days in what felt like a luxury campground (after Halls Creek). We got in some pool and beach time and chatted with our friendly neighbors, Craig and Carrie (and their cute dog Charlie Muriel). The couple, like a lot of other Aussies we’ve met, had sold their home and live out of their nice camper. They go where the work is, as Craig is a roadtrain driver for a gas company. On our last night in Broome we took in a fantastic sunset at Cable Beach.Above: our campground pool, not bad! Below: Cable beach