The big road trip – Karijini to Port Hedland

Day nine
Time to leave Exmouth but with some great memories. I must admit that when we pulled into the van park I thought I may have been overly optimistic in booking 4 nights but it proved to be just right. The wind was blowing for three of the four days, stopping only for our whale watching! Can’t ask for better than that. If we had an extra day we could have done the section south of Exmouth (either on the way in or the way out) but we can do that when we come back.

So a day spent mostly on the road. Actually we didn’t leave Exmouth until after 11am. The driving wasn’t too bad at all, through some amazing landscape of mountains and wildflowers. God did good in that domain through the area inland of Exmouth. Our biggest cost is trip is fuel. We filled up twice yesterday and LPG is proving to be exorbitantly expensive. In Perth it’s about 65c/L. Yesterday I paid an amazing $1.50/L. But petrol is only slightly dearer than it is in Perth. So I’m doing the math on economy and may end up using unleaded rather than LPG. The only difference is the way the vehicle runs. It is finely tuned (if none to economical) on LPG and seems to run a little less well on unleaded. I have to keep in mind that if I bought plane tickets for two to all the places we’ve been, even so far, it would cost a lot more. And this is my much anticipated trip so just pay for the fuel!

The evening and night of day nine (the fifth time putting up the camper) was spent at the House Creek Bridge campsite on the road from Nanuturra Roadhouse to Tom Price (which we renamed after The Piper – same initials). We had a lovely evening thanks to an early stop, the finely tuned machine that we are now in erecting the camper, a lovely early dinner cooked in daylight and a small but effective campfire to watch the stars. That’s become a nightly ritual with the race on to spot satellites and falling stars. We spotted mor than 6 satellites last night and at least 3 shooting stars. I’m not sure The Piper can be trusted but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. On Monday night we spotted a fantastically flaming falling something that lit, appeared to explode and then flashed before ending abruptly. We were both so surprised we could barely speak!

Day ten
More miles in the car before arriving in TP. No LPG at the bowser so I just topped up the ULP. Nows the chance to try the economy. Following a quick restocking trip (wine and bread) we were back on the road headed for Karijini. No here’s a tip. If you come here in winter, peak season, secure your site before you do anything else. We had lunch at the visitors centre and the had showers, got water for tomorrow’s showers and finally got to the campsite at about 3. God was smiling again as we secured the last site. Lucky us. “Among the generators” but I can’t hear any and if they start, they have to stop at 8pm. So that’s not so bad. Total cost for two nights, $24.40. Thank you WA parks and wildlife. And of course our parks pass means we are good for car entry too.

We are set up now, The Piper is busy on the bike and I’m under the influence of two beers. That bottle of wine should go nicely with my eggs on an English muffin. After 3 weeks of eating out in South America I am delighted to cook and enjoy simple but healthy food. Eating out is great but after weeks of the same thing, pasta, pizza, soups and the odd thing a bit more exotic, it’s great to cook. Here’s to a nice simple dinner, a glass of wine, some falling stars and an early good nights sleep.

Day eleven
Really? Eleven days already? The days are clicking over too fast. Today was another beautiful day despite a bad night with the cold. The Piper was restless and had to join me in my bed. Then he needed panadol for a sore back so I was up in the cold finding it and water. Then I was wide awake as he slept like a baby. Mind, we went to bed at 7.35pm!

Despite that, we had a lovely day. We walked from our camp to the walks around and down into Dales Gorge. First we walked the rim, then descended to the gorge bottom, and headed east to Circular Pool. The Piper was determined to swim, despite the cold and he wasn’t the only one. It was stunningly beautiful; clean, clear and fresh. We had it to ourselves for 10 minutes and then the masses joined us. Despite the peak period coming to an end it is still very busy here. Next we followed the gorge back in a westerly direction, all very well signed, to Fortescue Falls. We must have spent almost 2hrs there. The Piper swam, skimmed stones and enjoyed the waterfalls before we continued in a westerly direction to Fern Pool. What a great spot. A special place for the local aboriginal people, the Banyjima, Yinhawangka and Kurrama people, the pool has a ladder for gentle entry to the water and the sign requests that visitors are quiet while in the area. It’s very obvious why. Of course The Piper had a swim.

All that took us a good few hours, spent mostly swimming, with me sitting enjoying the beauty of the place. As usual we’ve barely scratched the surface of Karijini and will have to come back to explore the other gorges and areas of the park. According to The Piper we can come here for a day trip! Eleven days it’s taken to get here but maybe he missed that bit. This afternoon we enjoyed our first bush showers of the trip. What an absolute delight it is to shower in the bush. Everything went according to plan with water warmed almost entirely by the sun, the shower tent functioning perfectly, the 12volt shower providing great water flow and the sun keeping the air warm enough to enjoy every minute. A fabulous way to end a great day in Australia’s bush. Where are you? Why aren’t you here too?

Day 12
Another good day, maybe even a great day. Unfortunately we had to leave Karijini but we headed for family, arriving in Hedland to my sister in law and her fabulous little family. But first, the drive, over 300ks but not hard by any means. We cruised along with the massive trucks towing four trailers. The biggest I’ve seen is three. These things are incredibly long. Didn’t stop me overtaking them though. This trip also confirmed my suspicion that ULP might be more economical than LPG while ever it is within 20 to 30c/L of ULP. I’ll fill upLPG here in Hedland but I’ll use it once ULP has run out, until the next station.

Anyway, it’s a driving holiday so enough of that and more about the driving and the holiday. My passengers yesterday where The Piper and The Moose (formerly known as the mouse). At one stage, doing 100k/hr, towing a trailer, there was mild panic that The Moose had escaped but fortunately it proved to be a false alarm. With The Moose doing laps of the dash and The Piper messaging his GF, the miles continued clicking over. At one stage I thought I was seeing a mirage on the road. Silly me, it was just a dingo. Did you see that?! Just sauntering down the middle of the road before stepping off to the right to watch us pass. Did you see that?! Finally our bellies and my bladder demanded a stop just 70k from Hedland. After a refuel we completed the last leg happy and healthy, and lucky to be on the road.

We rolled into Hedland about 2, just in time to make the call to go to the circus with the fam. Great decision. What a super show with acrobats, trampolining feats of amazement, motorbikes in cages and funny clowns (no shit Sherlock). It was so much fun and my delightful nephews and The Piper (and I) loved it. A lovely way to end the day and start our stay in Hedland. We are very fortunate to have family to stay with for a few days. Reconnecting but finding the spontaneous link we all share is fabulous.

Check out the mouse on the brim of the hat

Day 13, 14 and 15
Three fabulous days of our trip spent with family doing family things. The best things. Things like under 5s soccer on Sunday morning. Things like a bike ride to the skate park. Things like a Sunday roast lamb with veggies. It’s really super being on the road but it’s really super to have the luxuries of a home and a family. So, Sunday was spent doing Sunday things as well as catching up on my washing and cleaning out the fridge! The Piper is in heaven playing with his cousins and being the big boy.

Monday, we hit the skate park at South Hedland, the largest sk8 pk in Aus. If you or your child skates and you’re in Hedland be sure to go there. The Piper and number 2 nephew couldn’t get enough. Number 2 nephew is 3 years old! I think he will be a star in the future on anything to do with wheels. Mind you, number one nephew was amazing too. He’s 5. But he’s going to be a soccer star. I’ll admit, I was heard to say “that’s my nephew” yesterday at the soccer game, as he scored his 3rd goal. What great kids.

After the skate park we hit the water park, maccas for ice cream in cones and then Kmart. Shop for summer clothes in a place where it never gets cold and you can’t go wrong. The Piper now has 8 new t’s and 6 pairs of new shorts! Yahoo! Home for dinner and hanging out shooting nerf bullets into a beer carton. As you do. Good times with a great family. Happy days making great memories.

If you make it to Hedland there’s more than enough to do even if you don’t have family here. Make sure you go down to the mouth of the port and watch a ship come in. They are massive! There’s s neat little park for the kids to play as you stand at the port entry and the ship passes you almost at arms reach. Too big for the view finder of the camera! And obviously the sk8 and water parks are a must (just ask The Piper).

Follow the next stage of our adventure here …

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