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Chris and Charly Down Under

a travel blog by chrischarly

Bye bye tuk tuks
Bye bye negotiating
Bye bye, 'Hello Mister'
Bye bye long bus rides
Bye bye heavy backpacks
Bye bye savings...
And G'DAY 'down under'!

After plenty of time spent in South East Asia, we have just left Australia after having an amazing time driving around for almost 3 months in a camper and are now in New Zealand doing the same :)

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Crowded Coral Bay

Carnarvon, Australia

We decided to make our way up to Coral Bay today to do some snorkelling, so after a lot of driving we made it to find it full of people as it is the school holidays and there was nowhere to stay for less than $38 which put us off, and with no free campsites around we thought we had better give it a miss and head further North.

We still had to pay for a sight but $24 is a bit better and we did kind of like it as it had hot outdoor showers and the sight was noticeably nicer than the free ones, so paying for them occasionally doesn’t hurt. Had a great evening walking about the campsite which is an old station and chatting to some other (if slightly bizarre) travellers.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 4, 2011 from Carnarvon, Australia
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5ft Black tipped reef shark

Exmouth, Australia

Woke up bright and early at 6:15am to get away as early as possible to try and secure a place to sleep in the Cape Range National Park, but unfortunately as we lent 2 hard-core travellers our tent for the night as they only had a sheet of tarpaulin to sleep under we had to wait for them to wake up as well, plus we promised them a lift to the end of the road as they were hitchhiking their way around Australia. At 7:30am, Chris gave up waiting and woke them up so by the time they were ready we were way beyond schedule. But we did feel better about ourselves for our good deed for the day! So anyway, off we headed towards Exmouth, filled up our water and then waited for the visitor information centre to open so we could book somewhere to stay. As the doors open a sign goes up saying, ‘No spaces left in The National Park’. Great. And it was only 9am! But we decided to make the most of our day regardless and would just hop from place to place seeing as much as we could. Firstly though we had to go and buy some snorkels and managed to get a good deal for $50 a set. Still pricey but well worth it. First stop was Yardie Creek which is a huge gorge with some fantastic views. Then straight after we made our way to Sandy Beach which is a perfect swimming beach with very light blue clear water. We had a nice refreshing swim in there before making our way to Turquoise Bay to do some snorkelling. Everyone had told us just how amazing it was for snorkelling so we were really excited. They have quite a dangerously strong current just outside the bay, but the best way to get in the water is to walk as far up the beach as you like and just let the current take you but you have to get out before the shoreline changes or you’ll drift out to sea! Pretty scary but we listened to advice given so were fine. To be honest though, the snorkelling itself was pretty disappointing. There were quite a few fish in the water but most of the coral was dead, just think we have been spoilt by all the awesome snorkelling we did in Indonesia! The highlight of it was though; I saw a black tipped reef shark the same size as me and managed to swim alongside it for a while, completely unaware that it was in fact dangerous until I read the boards about them! But apparently if you leave them alone and don’t wind them up you’ll be fine. After snorkelling we had run out of time to do or go anywhere else so made our way to the next free campsite arriving just before dark.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 5, 2011 from Exmouth, Australia
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A lot of driving

Tom Price, Australia

First thing we set off for Tom Price and Karijini National Park. A lot of driving but it was worth it. We decided to go straight inside the park and spend the night there and found a huge camping ground for $7pp per night.

It was a lovely sight, although busy. We considered going out for a drive to do some exploring late afternoon, but the gorge nearest to us, Dales Gorge was sadly closed due to a man and his child falling off a Cliff, so instead spent the evening relaxing with a glass of wine and some tasty BBQ Chicken.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 6, 2011 from Tom Price, Australia
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Karijini National Park

Karijini National Park, Australia

Woke up early to see that the Dales Gorge is now open, so that was our first stop in the Karijini National Park.

It was really beautiful and took a long walk down to Fortescue Falls and went for a refreshing cool off in the water below.

Then after we dried off took a 3km rough hike to see the Circular Pool and again went for a swim and then a steep walk back to the top to find our van.

It was a fantastic morning and as we arrived to both places quite early on, it felt as if we almost had the place to ourselves.

Then, starving we went and hungrily made ourselves bacon sandwiches and made our way to the visitor centre in the park.

Everyone advised that as we were here we should go and see some of the other lookout points North of the park making Weano Gorge the priority, so we got in the van and set off.

After 14km down a horribly corrugated dirt track taking us 35 minutes we gave up and turned back around scared we would permanently damage the van. It was 43km in total so would’ve taken us 2 hours to get there and as it was already the afternoon we wouldn’t make it back before dark. Gutted. We really were disappointed. So instead we headed out of the park and to a little campsite, which we had completely to ourselves, apart from the horrible disgusting persistent flies which drove us crazy!


permalink written by  chrischarly on October 7, 2011 from Karijini National Park, Australia
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Lots of driving

Port Hedland, Australia

We left camp at 6:30am this morning, the flies were out once again and the only thing we could do was leave as quick as possible for Port Hedland. But, Port Hedland was a bit boring with very little to do, so we soon moved on and drove for Miles to get a little closer to Broome so we could check that out tomorrow. Not a lot to write about just loads of driving.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 8, 2011 from Port Hedland, Australia
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Stuck in the sand

Broome, Australia

Well today was certainly a stressful one! Woke up and left for Broome first thing and arrived at 8am. First stop was to the Visitor Centre to ask them for some advice on the free campsites just north of the town. It said on our map, that 4WDs were recommended to drive along the road to get access to the camp, but the lady confirmed that our van would be fine to make it up there. Well, she lied… But firstly we went to Cable Beach to have a swim, but there were too many jellyfish in there for me to go in, but Chris went in regardless and luckily didn't get stung. The road was awful and very badly corrugated and I had to sit in the back as all the cupboard doors kept flying open and throwing all our food and clothes out, but we made it to the campsite. The directions then said to make your way to the picnic spot where you could camp for free, so we drove on a little further, turned a corner and saw some very deep soft sand. Chris stopped as quickly as he could, did a U-turn and then got stuck. We spent about 15 minutes trying to get ourselves before Chris went and got some help. By this time we were well and truly buried and I got underneath and started digging right down until I could find a hard surface for the back wheels to drive over, then, Chris came back with our 2 helpful travellers with a huge 4WD pickup and kindly towed us out. By this time we had had enough of Broome and thought our best bet was to just drive away and stay at another campsite outside of town. Unfortunately though at the end of the stupid corrugated road another driver flagged us down and told us that our door on the outside of the van where our gas bottle lived was hanging off! Bugger. The bumps had sheared the lock off and it was nowhere to be seen, but luckily the gas bottle itself was still hanging in there. Great. Back to Broome to try and get the problem fixed as there was no way we could continue. But as it was 5pm on a Sunday so, nowhere was open, and with no free campsites accessible to us for a 60km radius we just had to bite the bullet and stay at the cheapest pay one for $33. On the plus side though, it had a swimming pool and with 30 minutes to spare before it closed once we arrived, I quickly showered to get all the sand off me and jumped straight in to cool off and de-stress.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 9, 2011 from Broome, Australia
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Getting things fixed

Fitzroy Crossing, Australia

To make the most of our expensive campsite we woke up early and went for a swim before packing up and leaving to search for a new lock for our gas door. After driving around and around Broome we finally came across a locksmith who could sort it out for us for just $15, which was great as we thought it would cost considerably more. Then, we were on our way. Quite a lot of driving to head as close to Fitzroy Crossing as possible so we wouldn’t have far to go in the morning. It was a scorcher of a day and we pulled up at about 3:30pm, desperately seeking shade, went to find firewood, made a fire, ate some food, watched a film and then slept.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 10, 2011 from Fitzroy Crossing, Australia
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Geike Gorge

Kununurra, Australia

We left first thing this morning at 5:30am to head to Fitzroy Crossing and then onto Geike Gorge. The plan was to go for a walk around the gorge and then go on a boat trip. But when we arrived at the gorge, the boat trips were due to leave in 45 minutes so no time for our walk before it got hot, so we went straight for the boat trip for $28pp.

We thought it was time to spend a little money doing something touristy and were glad we did as it was worthwhile and informative. On the way we saw a few kangaroos and along the River saw many freshwater crocodiles as well as many impressive limestone structures caused by weathering overtime. We then went straight past Halls Creek to make our way as close to Kununurra in preparation of crossing through to The Northern Territory border tomorrow.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 11, 2011 from Kununurra, Australia
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Too hot to do anything but jump in a pool!

Katherine, Australia

We woke up really early and went to Wyndam to see the 5 River lookout. This is where 5 Rivers all join up into one, but as it is quite dry, the Rivers weren’t flowing very much as it was a hazy morning so there was very little to see, which was pretty disappointing as we had driven out the way to see it.

We then headed to Kununurra and it was so hot at just 8:30am. So the first stop was to the Leisure Centre to go for a swim and cool off. At 10am in the morning it was already at 43 degrees! We couldn’t believe it! Scared to get out and back in the heat we stayed in for just over an hour, showered and continued driving through the border, losing 1 ½ hours due to the time difference and stopping 100kms short of Katherine.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 12, 2011 from Katherine, Australia
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To Batchelor to meet up with Becks...

Batchelor, Australia

Woke up early and drove straight out to Katherine to have an explore around. However, when we arrived, I logged straight on to the internet and noticed I had a Facebook message from our friend Becks who we met in Laos. She only lives 200km away from where we were so we cancelled our plans and drove up to hers outside of Batchelor. It was great to see her and meet the family and all of their animals on the farm and inside the House. They have 9 dogs, about 7 or 8 cats, 2 pigs, 1 cow but many more live on their land, 2 hand-reared goats, loads of chickens, ducks, geese, Guinea fowl, a lorikeet (talking bird), some horses I think, 2 wild deer they feed all kept outside. Then inside, a duck in a bird’s cage, a baby Wallaroo kept inside a shopping bag as it’s like it’s mother’s pouch, 2 rats, a few snakes and I’m sure some other animals I’ve forgotten. Pretty amazing staying on a mango farm and walking around!

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 13, 2011 from Batchelor, Australia
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