Exmouth  to  Townsville       22 May - 2 August

After shopping, laundry, fuel and water time to leave Exmouth and head towards Dampier. The countryside is flat and despite signs everywhere that the road might be under water this probably only happens sporadically. Hardly any trees only low bushes and a grass with spikes on it. Next day the horizon slowly changes and a few hills appear, see above photo.  We entering a remote part of Australia but probably one of the richest. Enormous amount of iron ore are found  and since China is picking up, a lot of people are making a lot of money here. 25 May. Only drove 50 KM today and found a popular spot beside the Robe river. We were the only ones there for the best part of the day Spend all day under a tree and saw one caravan after another pull in later in the afternoon. Very relaxing and were here for four days. Next stop Karratha and Dampier. This is solely a mining town. 25% of Australia's export dollar goes through the harbour of Dampier. Iron ore, gas and salt. After shopping off to the info centre. The gas plant could be visited the next day but when we got there there was something going on and closed for the day. The only other interesting item are the aboriginal rock paintings. I did find them eventually but after two hours Susan got a bit anxious and had already visions of here driving the bus back by herself. During the afternoon we drove in to Millstream national park. We inquired about the state of the road and they told us that it was not too bad. They lied. 60 KM of corrugated dirt road. We have seen a lot of dust but this is the worst we have seen. The red dust sticks to and gets in to everything. We got a lovely spot beside the Fortescue River and are here for six days. Hundreds of Corellas are keeping us company all day and you have to watch where you sit.   
 A swarm of budgies beside the Robe River          Karratha Aboriginal rock art            On the way to Millstream national park
4 June. Visited another part of the Millstream National Park. Pythons pool. When we got there we realised that we forgot to close one window and the red bulldust was thick on everything in the bus. Susan had done all the laundry when we camped beside the river but now we had to find another Laundromat. Pythons pool was very pretty but because the campsite was closed we drove back to Karratha. Finally we had contact with the outside world again. When you are used to have your phone and internet at hand all the time you really miss it when you are without it for a week. Susans birthday on the 31st was quiet phone wise but all the messages came in as soon as we had contact. In Karratha we only had time for the laundry and we strung some lines at the beach to dry the washing. A lot of people turned up with camera's. We found out this was the time for stairways to the moon. And it was a bottler. Next day to Dampier and the statue of Red dog. If you haven't seen the movie yet go and see it. It is out on DVD now. All we had to do in Karratha was supplies and time to head north again.
     Corellas keeping us company all day                   Dampier Stairway to the moon               Dampier Red dog statue
6 June. This is the first time that we are having rain in over 3 month. We drove in to Cossack and Roebourne which are lovely old places but not when it is cold and miserable. So towards Port Hedland and camped beside the Yule river which was nearly dry but can be a raging torrent in the wet. We expected to pick up our mail in Port Hedland but had not arrived yet therefore we booked in to a caravan park. Only ten minutes after we booked in we got a phone call from the post office that our mail had arrived. While in the caravan park I noticed that I had one flat tyre. Port Hedland is not a very interesting place. A big port for iron ore and salt. Got the tyre fixed and were on the way to De Grey river which is a very popular rest area. Clear water for Susan to do some more laundry. Spend three nights at De Grey. This time not a lot of bird life but plenty of cows to keep us company. From De Grey towards Broome. The landscape is comparable to the Nullarbor Plain. Only low scrub and in some places only grass without any trees. Did not go in Cape Kerauderen and Eighty mile beach but visited Portsmith lagoon. 20 KM dirt road but not corrugated. Next stop Barn Hill station. 10 KM unsealed but could not drive fast. Too many speed bumps. This was the only place where we stayed for two weeks three years ago. Have a beaut spot overlooking the ocean. We had very good contact with the neighbours which makes this place special. The Sunday nights here are always special. $15 for a tree course meal and an aboriginal band playing 70s music. Always a great night. Drinkies afterwards with the neighbours this meant that we had to stay another day just to to recover. 

Camp spot at Barn hill. We are about 1/3 in from the left.

19 June. Off to Broome. First fill up the tank $210 fuel and groceries. Booked in to a caravan park for two nights. Did some sightseeing and a must do in Broome is sunset at Cable beach with the camels on the beach. No clouds which means the sunset is not spectacular but still very impressive. We sat on the beach drinking wine looking at the sunset. Very special. And it is all over again as far as Broome is concerned. Off to Derby. You know when you get in to the Kimberlies when you see the boab tree and there are plenty here.  We had hoped to do do the horizontal waterfall tour from Derby but it was booked out for the next five days and we did not want to stay in Derby for five days with nothing to do. I think there are more tourists living in caravan parks than permanent residents in Derby. No tour but a saving of $1300. Stopped at the Boab prison tree where the aboriginal prisoners were held in rhe 1800th. 
                     Barn Hill dinner dance                                                                 Broome Cable Beach
21 June. After Derby drove out of town towards Fitzroy Crossing. The headwind was so strong that we decided to stay in a rest area. A lot of other campers had the same idea because at lunch time there were a lot setting up camp. 
Susan in front of the Boab prison tree.                                    Only landscape in between the places.
22 June. Only did another 100 KM because of the wind. Next day Fitzroy Crossing. The place itself is nothing. A few houses, petrol stations and shops. The big attraction here is Geiki Gorge. To see it properly you have to do the boat tour. There were plenty of fresh water crocodiles sunning themselves. In the afternoon we drove to Ngumban Cliff lookout rest area. We have camped here with Eric and Anneke. That time it was warm, this time cold and windy. Next morning 13 degrees and the wind was terrible. The horizon was cloudy from all the dust in the air. Only 80 KM and a very popular rest area. Mary Pool has sometimes over 100 caravans and motorhomes here. We got there early in the morning and had a good spot overlooking the river and all during the day a steady stream of caravans and motorhomes drifted in.  We camped here three nights. 
                                         Geiki Gorge near Fitzroy Crossing                                                              Road to Kunanurra
27 June. Direction Halls Creek. I don't think things change here ever. Did some shopping and booked in to a caravan park. There was nowhere to fill the water tank up and it also gave Susan a chance to use her free hour on the phone as we have been outside reception area for a while and will be again. Also gave me a chance to do some internet. Only drove 110 Km the next day to a rest area. Again very popular. On the road there is a steady stream of caravans and camper trailers. Only an occasional motorhome. Luckily the wind has eased off. The countryside shows signs of a lot of bush fires and is getting more mountainous. 
30 June Kununurra. We skipped Wyndham and therefore did not pass the turnoff to the Gibb River Road. Just so Susan would not get the heeby jeeby's. Kununurra is a hive of activity. The tourists are bringing in a lot of money here. We started with the necessities like shopping before we did the touristy things.
        Kunanurra from the Knoll lookout                       Keep River national park. The photo's don't do justice to the scenery.
Whille going for a walk I saw a lot of speedway cars heading my way and found out that this was on. So we off to the speedway. A good night out. The nights are not as cold anymore and it was pleasant to sit outside. We could stay there for the night. Next day a few hours beside the Ord River before we headed for the zebra rock display and off to the different lookouts. The Knoll lookout gives a good overview of the city of 5000. Next the mini Bungle Bungles. They were still the same as four years ago but still impressive. Late in the afternoon we headed east. After spending 3 month in West Australia we arrive in the Northern Territory. We had heard that the Keep River national park was good and a good road.  The reason we had not been here previously was that the book said a rough dirt track. Most of the road was fairly smooth with a few rough patches. Keep River national park was the big surprise this holiday. The scenery is spectacular. There are two camp sites. The first one we stayed in was small and most campers sat around the camp fire. The walk was only 2.5KM with a lot of variety in the rock formations. The second camp site was not as cosy and the walk was 7.5KM with only spectacular rock formations at end of the walk. We had been to the Bungle Bungles before and this looked  very much the same.  The third night here we went back to the first camp where the ranger had a talk about the park. Another walk had a lot of rock paintings.
             Keep river NP                 Rock painting Keep River NP                                      Katherine Gorge
5 July and direction Timber Creek. Camped over at the Policemen's lookout. This is crocodile country and there was a 3m one sunbathing directly across the  camp. The sun shining a beautiful view, what else do you want. Over the next three days we saw a number of crocks and a Jabiru. No luck with the fishing. It was a pity we had to move on. This was one of the nicest camp spots we have had. Only one overnight stop before Katherine. In Katherine we booked a tour to the Katherine gorge and went to a caravan park where Susan could do the Laundry. This was also the first day in 5 month that it got really hot. Luckily the nights are OK. 10 July and took the two gorge tour. We had done this before but it was still impressive the second time. It was also good to see that the tour guides are Aborigines. Too many times you see that Europeans running the Aboriginal sites. It was also overcast and we had not seen that for many month.
                                                                       Katherine Gorge
11 June. After spending the night 45KM outside Katherine we drove towards Tennant Creek and via Larrimah and Mataranka with it's hot springs and no bats to Daily Waters. In Larrimah there was a gathering of people who collected money for bush children and were driving on postie bikes from Uluru to Darwin. They had a bathing costume day as can be seen on the photo.
Daily Waters is a very popular place. The first time we came here maybe five vans in the caravan park. The second time the park was 3/4 full. This time they had an overflow section and the place was packed. Different entertainer this time but we had a great night and the big slab of barramundi was delicious. Next day 150 KM south. We heard that there was a large billabong near Elliot. It took a while to find and the road was terrible. We found a beaut spot overlooking the water, far away from other campers. Plenty of bird life. Pelicans, cormorants, brolga's, eagles and one jabiru. Had a campfire going and cooked dinner in the camp oven.
           The wild west in Larrimah                             Daly Waters pub                             Jabiru and cormorants near Elliot
14 July. 250 KM to Tennant Creek. All we did here was shopping and fuel. Spend the night at a sacred Aboriginal site near Tennant Creek drinking holy water (wine). We are doing a lot of driving now because from Tennant Creek to the Queensland border 470 KM there is not much to see. Actually in case we would drive straight through we would end up in Townsville 2200KM. The scenery to the border is boring. Flat countryside, sometimes only grass but most of the time a few trees here and there. There is a strong headwind all the time which severely affects fuel consumption.  Luckily the price of diesel has dropped recently and is well under $2 a litre. $1.65 in Katherine, $1.68 in Tennant Creek and $1.89 in Barkley Homestead. We saw a caravan watertank on the road and in the rest area where we spend the night we found the owners. They went back and it was still OK.
                            Back on home soil                             Camoweal billabong                             Betty Jenji in Mount Isa
16 July. We got to the Camoweal billabong early. When we here four years ago we were the only ones here. Now it is a very popular place and the caravans are lined up back to back. There is a lot more water this time and the wildlife is spread out over a larger area. After two days looking to the birds time to move on. 18 July and we arrive in Mount Isa where we spend two days with Betty Jenji an old Dutch friend.  The weather is still beautiful Cold nights and blue skies during the day. We have to get a move on because only 6 days to the motorhome rally in Mareeba. When we got to Cloncurry we did not even get out of the car to have a look around. No old buildings or anything interesting. Here we turned north to Normanton and finally a tail wind. The trip from Tennant Creek to Mount Isa took 100 KM of the range of a normal tank full. The 400 KM to Normanton has only one sign of life the Burke and Wills roadhouse. About 100KM is single lane bitumen and very wobbly. Normanton is a sleepy town now but in the late 1800s was a thriving place. Now a lot of tourists come through to look at the a replica of the largest crocodile caught anywhere in the world. 8 Metre and huge.
          Susan taming the croc                                           A small selection of motorhomes at the rally
We are driving a fair few KM the last couple of days. Croydon is the only worthwhile stop. An old mining town with lots of history and still some historic buildings remaining. The other town we are driving through I would not like to live. No normal shops. One shop that sells everything with limited choice. We did stop in at the hot springs. And the water that comes out of the ground is too hot to touch but a little bit further downstream you can dig a hole in the sand and just let the healing water do it's work. We did not need any healing so drove on. The closer we get to Mareeba the busier it get's with motorhomes and caravans. All the overnight parks in Ravenswood and Atherton are overflowing. Now we are settled at the rally we can see why. 300 Motorhomes is the maximum in here and it is full house. The nights are a bit chilly but the days are beautiful. We will be here to Monday. During the rally we have met up with a lot of old friends. On Monday drove to Cairns to visit Marijke and Peter hunt. Marijke had some Dutch lessons from Susan years ago and we stayed in contact. Had a walk to the beach and drinkies and nibbles. Next morning direction home but I wanted to walk up the Pyramid first. This is a mountain south of Cairns and every time I drove past I said to myself one day I am going to walk up there. Peter was going to join me, but when we got there the track was closed because there was going to be a race the next weekend. We decided to drive straight home after tis and got there late in the afternoon.
The house and garden looked spotless. The housesitter did an excellent job.
               Susan selling books at the rally                     A lot of effort but no prize                       Marijke and Susan in cairns

  We are back home.

Next trip in October to Brisbane