Broome, Cape Leveque & Starting the GIBB!

So...we have travelled 4000 kms in the past 26 days since I last wrote.We ended up staying in Broome for a week as we loved it too much. Broome is a holiday town with a very relaxed atmosphere. A bit like the areas we go to in Bali ...just with a slightly different price tag. Did some touristy things such as riding camels on Cable Beach, had a couple of cocktails in the sunset bar but mainly just enjoyed the conveniences of being in a caravan park and in a town. We stayed at the Broome Vacation Village where we stayed before.

The caravan parks in Broome are usually fully booked out this time of the year and even if you can get in you are really wedged in between many others in a tiny space. The Vacation Village not being in prime spot or close to the beach is a bit more quiet so it suited us a lot more. There were only a handful of people here, we had heaps of space, the kids could run around and ride around and also the swimming pool was pretty quiet so we could be the rowdy ones. Its not the best park but its clean, shady and works well for us. One of the issues here is that its pretty close to a busy road. You will hear road noise early in the morning. Nanna and Grandad joined us here for a few nights too. Driving down on Cable Beach, getting the chairs and table out, sitting back and absorbing watching the sun go down with a glass of wine in your hand is a must here. Dont forget the cheese and crackers! The camel ride is ...well..its what it is and if you have little kids its a different experience that they love.

Broome is not cheap by any standard. I have been here 3 times now but never actually flew here..I always drove. It does have its limitations as far as what you can do in town so if you were planning to fly up here for a holiday I would definitely recommend to book lots of excursions and trips to check out the surrounding. I would be so lost without my 4WD up here.

We packed up and headed to Cape Leveque. The cape and Dampier Peninsula is an unmissable part of this area. Since we have been here before and because of the restrictions at the moment due to indigenous land we though we will only spend a couple of days up here..but once again the plan evolved and we stayed for 8 nights 3 different locations.

Campsite at Quongdong

Before I talk about the camping I am going to quickly touch on the “covid restriction” up here. The bureaucratic knee-jerk reaction to the situation is the governments so called “locked down” not just of aboriginal communities but lands that belong to the communities. We are not talking about small areas...we are talking about areas that are the size of a European country. One problem with that is for example the Kalamburu community. They are at the end of a few hundred milometer dirt road up on top of the Kimberley. This dirt road also happened to be the road that takes you to Mitchell Plateau. Even if you have no intention to turn off to the community you are not allowed to use the road. It doesn't make sense and locks white people out of huge parts of this a matter of fact most of the Kimberley. Combine it with the bigger and more serious issue of how this lockout works and you have an irrational, nonsense solution that is not just outright dumb but also dangerous if things deteriorate. I will explain that. It shows that governments and bourocrats have absolutely zero understanding of how the world works around them. There is no organisation, let it be media or any other group that speaks the truth or is interested in dealing with the subject. The “lockdown” is not a lockdown at all..Its a “LOCKOUT” . If you are white, you can not enter the areas but there is NO restrictions on the communities at all. They can come and go as they please ..and they do. I spoke to a number of people who live and work in these communities. They all said the communities are empty..there is hardly anyone up there and they all come and go. They dont want to be stuck in the their limited little communities. They are in Broome, Derby, Kunnanura ..everywhere..coming and going like normal. Bottle shops in these towns is also a huge motivating factor for many residents to move around...So imagine a sterile ward of a hospital where nobody is allowed to go in but the vulnerable residents of this ward are free to come and go as they please. You would question it, wouldn't you..Why is nobody questioning the restrictions and how they work is beyond me. Its absolute nonsense and the fact that people just accept it and accept the demagogue brainwashed reasoning behind is a bit scary to be honest.

Camping @ Cygnet Bay

Anyhow..back to the trip to the cape. As you head up towards the tip you can take a detour to the west side where you will find some awesome free camping areas right on the waters edge. We chose Quandong, about and hour and a half out of Broome. Set up camp on top of some rocks and stayed here for a couple of nights. At low tide the water is a couple of hundred meters out but when hightide comes the waves are right below you. Stunning spot and you can be pretty far from other campers. Beautiful white beach with small sand dunes. I even went for a paragliding session on the dunes but the wind dropped so didnt get much out of it. Middle Lagoon, where we camped 3 years ago an loved so much is part of the lockout so we decided to try Cygnet Bay Perl Farm. To get up there you still have to drive the 40 km dirt road section. Unfortunately not for long as the bitumen was being laid down all the way already. It will be different once its blacktop. This place has limited camp grounds – 5 van sites and 5 tent sites- . Nice, shady spot close to the water but sheltered. At low tide oysters are plentyful on the rocks so we had a sessions at night and early in the morning too getting fresh big oysters off the rock...YOU CANT BEAT IT. Nanna and Grandad were here for a couple of days and it was nice catching up again before they moved on to a different site nearby. Highlight of our stay was hiring a small dinghy from the pearl farm and spending a day on the water. We invited the grandparents for this trip as well. The vibrant blue and green water up here are beautiful.

Checked out a nearby island and cruised up the creek for some fishing. No fish was caught for dinner but we saw dolphins, crocs, small and big fish everywhere and all in all had an amazing day in a magical place.Cygnet Bay is one of the only places on the cape that has a restaurant and a pool with a view. You feel like you are in a small oasis here on the peninsula. You can light fires at your campsite which is always good..even on warm days. We love cooking on the fire and for the first time we made pizzas from scratch on the bbq plate over the open fire but even the stakes taste better when it is cooked this way.From here we drove up to the cape to Kooljaman.

This campground is right on the tip. The red rocks at sunset are a treat and a must see. They glow like hot iron. We had views over the vast ocean from our tent and and over a dozen whales provided entertainment breaching, blowing , playing.

The east side is only a minute drive away and the sheltered white sandy bays and the beaches are perfect for swimming. They never had a croc sighting here and for some reason the blue bottle (stiners/jelly fish) is a no show as well on this side. Its easy to drive on this beach as it is quite hard and wide but you still need to watch the tide. We snorkelled with schools of fish amongst the submerged rocks.

After two nights we headed back to Broome for a quick stop. Our trailer tyres were pretty old and two of them struggled to keep the air for more than a few hours. Broome is well supplied considering how remote it is but nothing like a city. You have limited options and we ended up choosing the Tyre Power shop as they seemed the most helpful. We were lucky as Tam's Uncle has an empty industrial property ( a big hot shed with a couple of air-conditioned offices) and he kindly made it available for us to shack up for a couple of days.

Once again we caught up with Helen and Ron and then headed for the Gibb River Road. As they had a friend driving up from Perth to join them for the Gibb we spent a couple of days on the banks Fitzroy River. The place is full of crocs. Mainly freshies but there is the odd salty too so no swimming here and extra care must be taken..especially with kids. I wouldn't call it the greatest campsite as it is hot, dusty and the spot we picked wasn't the shadiest. If you could swim or use the water it would be a different experience. Anyhow, we had fun, lit fires, cooked delicious meals and once again ..attempted to catch fish.

Campsite on Fitzroy River ( 18 m under water in the wet season )

Some of the Crocs sunning themselves on the Fitroy River ( Salt & Fresh !)

Unfortunately or I could say fortunately we discovered that our trailer had suffered some serious damage. The hanging point for the right leaf springs has rusted away collapsed and on the other side cracks appeared. It was clear that we cant hit a thousand kilometre of remote corrugated road without fixing it so we had to develop a plan. Derby was the closest place so we headed there. Derby really feels like an outpost with really limited supplies. Combine that with a very high percentage of alcohol affected “locals” (as Luke calls the indigenous population) it really is not the place where you want to hang out for days so we headed back to Broome – a couple hundred kms – again. Broome actually has a business called Kimberley Trailers. This bloke is brilliant. He builds trailers, he fixes trailers, he modifies trailers. He has the parts and knows everything about trailers. We booked in with him for Wednesday (well originally he said “ I can do it in a couple of weeks” ) which meant we had 5 more days in Broome. We are forever grateful to Nigel , Tams cousin for letting us stay once again in the shed. Considering that Caravan Parks are $60 a night, it saved us a lot of money. Also we had to unpack everything so this was the perfect solution for us. I think over our many trips we have learned to adjust our plans to whatever situation the trip and life throws at us. This is just one of them I guess. I am a firm believer its not what happens but how you deal with it that counts.

By Thursday afternoon we were on the road again heading for The Gibb once again..and this time we made it least to the start of it. It was late and dark but we did get there. First night on the Gibb! We pulled into the bush at an old, unused gravel pit and set up a quick, light campsite. Unfortunately we flattened one wallaby on the way but never the less we were on the Gibb! Early next morning we hit the road again. We checked out Winjana Gorge which was very dry at the moment as its almost the end of the dry season ans there are said to be more than 100 crocs in the small amount of water , we saw about 50 sunning themselves on the banks and could walk up close to them but they are a bit more edge than normal as they are all fighting for space so definatley not a good idea to get in the water and there are photos of injuries and warning everywhere to say this. We walked the Gorge and had lunch here on the shady picnic table but decided not to camp here, it is a dry dusty open campsite , it does have showers, toilets and water but not much else to offer.

I find National Parks camping in WA can be ridiculously expensive. We have an annual pass but entry fee is $15 (which you don't have to pay if you have the pass) , camping fee is $17/person and kids are $3. If you think about it..National Parks belong to the people and the government is trusted to manage it. That is even their motto here in WA “Parks for People” . We pay our taxes and in every other state those taxes are responsible for the maintenance and management of the parks. Don't misunderstand..I am not against camping fees , I am for it ...but at a justified and reasonable amount, not $55 for one night. I had people putting up the argument that it is good that it is a “user pay” system but for some reason these people never agreed to the notion of bicycle riders should pay road taxes, drug addicts should pay their own hospital fees when they overdose, prisoners should work to earn their rent and food in the institution, museums and art centres should not be government financed, childless couples taxes shouldn't be going towards education..and the list goes on. Its just a clever way of double taxing.

Anyhow..from here we kept going the same direction and explored Tunnel Creek. This is one of the highlights of this section. It is a dark but quite spacious tunnel through the cliffs filled with water in places. The carpark is close to the tunnel but you have to climb through a few rocks to get in, it is under a kilometre and you have to wade through some waste deep cold water to get the whole way. There is a section full of bats and areas a re very dark so you need to carry a torch but it is very nice and cool in there. At the entrance we were greeted by a croc, a small fella and he is a freshy so we got some pictures with him before heading into the cave, there were more crocs in the cave so you have to be careful where you step but its quite safe as they are use to people coming through ( and stick to the right side as this is shallower). We spent a good couple of hours in the tunnel exploring it and the beautiful creek out the otherside .Both Winjana and Tunnel Creek are on a road between The Gibb and Great Northen Highway so it is a detour and took us about an hour to get back to the Gibb. We set up camp on Dog Chain Creek. It is a free campsite on a waterhole/creek. Perfect location for the night, its close to the road but there is limited traffic on the Gibb especially at night.

Dog Chain Creek Campsite

Next morning we had a quick freshen up in the creek, packed up and then backtracked a bit as we decided to camp for a few nights at Mt Hart.

It is a privately owned campground on a fresh water creek with a small restaurant and bar. It is pretty remote with a 50km winding, rocky, dirt road to get there that branches North off the Gibb that will take you about an hour and a half to drive, but when you get to this campsite you know it is well worth it. We decided to stay for 4 nights just to enjoy the cool fresh water and a shady, semi grassy tent site right on the deep creek that is perfect for swimming. There is hardly anyone here so we feel like the place is ours. I made my first slow cooked roast in the camp-oven, we celebrated fathers day in the little restaurant and made good use of the two free little paddle boats. There were two other families here for a night so the kids had great company and played a lot.

There are a couple of short drives you can do from here to the gorge, some river crossings, sunset hill and we even posted a postcard which we gave to the pilot/postman on his weekly mailplane run.

Dolerite Geroge At Mt Hart

Luke is catching up on his schoolwork a bit as his “online teacher” who is getting a bit edgy with us as she is not getting enough material from Luke's work and apparently Luke's curving of the letters is not that great. I have a 1000 things I could say to her. Its a bit hard to make Luke count little yellow plastic animals the teacher sent us just after he counted 50 crocs, 7 kangaroos, two huge lizards, 5 dolphins and dozen whales in a couple of days. Also its hard to make him try to turn a tissue box into a fake garden by sticking sticks into it (school project) after he has driven my car through a deep river crossing and perfectly reversed my trailer in to the campsite than proceeded to demonstrate how to eat green ants ( the green bit only..its like lemon) . I also tried to to talk to him about how seeds grow while he had a rock in one hand, a hunting knife in the other and he was getting beautiful oysters off the rock. “I know daddy but I am busy right now”- was his reply.Couldn't imagine a better childhood for a 4 and 6 year old and trust me..his curving of letter will improve with due course but there is no need to rush it. We have now been on the road a while and speaking with other parents doing the same sort of thing we have learnt not to stress about this. The things they are learning now are invaluable and will stay with them forever.


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