Post Card from the West Coast of Oz*

There are a wide variety of things to see along the northwestern coast of Oz. Many of them are touristy, while others are a little off the beaten track. Here are some images from the places and things we enjoyed the most. All of the images were shot in the state of Western Australia.

*By the way, Australians love to shorten the names of places, so it only stands to reason that Australia = Aussie = Aus = Oz.

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Post Card from the Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean near Broome, Western Australia.

The long drive over the Road From Hell (see previous post…) ended in Broome, Western Australia, on the Indian Ocean. One of our goals was to see the Indian Ocean and tour the coastline.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service uses straight sections of the highway as airstrips for their air ambulances. The distances are too great to use helicopters.

It’s almost 1,500 miles on the coastal route from Broome to Perth, about 100 miles further then driving I-5 from Canada to Mexico. We visited Port Hedland, Dampier, Exmouth, and Denham/Monkey Mia. Some are industrial towns; others, tourism is their industry. Remember all that red rock and soil? This part of Australia is rich in iron ore which is shipped to regional countries like India and China.

Iron ore being trucked to port. Note the red dirt on the trailers. And yes, that truck has four trailers.
They can be up to 175 feet long…

We visited beaches that were all shells without sand and beautiful sand beaches too.

A beach of shells
From the top of a dune near Exmouth, Western Australia.
Sunset on tide flats near Dampier, Western Australia.
The locals call the reflection “staircase to the moon”.
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Post Card from The Road From Hell…

Somewhere along the road to hell…

Hour after hour, we drove across a flat featureless landscape, sometimes cresting a low hill only to see the same featureless landscape. When we stopped to change drivers or have a cuppa, we stayed in the RV. It was 107 degrees out and felt like we were trying to breath with our heads in an oven. If we did step outside, we were besieged by tenacious, sticky flies that tried to crawl in our nose, mouth, eyes, and ears.

That’s 175-1/2 feet. The road trains were huge!

One day, we drove to a road house with a campground only to find that a recent bush fire had nearly closed the establishment. There was no shade in the campground, only heat. We drove on looking for something better, but it’s a long way to the next roadhouse.

Agile Wallaby outside our RV.

It took four days to drive from Darwin to Broome and it felt like we were truly driving the road from hell. But, there was some interesting flora and fauna along the journey.

Flying foxes (bats). About 1-1/2 feet from top of foot to bottom of head.
Boab tree.
Fresh water crocodile.
Brolga, spooked before we could get a good shot.
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Postcard from the Road to Darwin

Somewhere in the Outback…

It’s 955 miles from Adelaide in the south to Alice Springs in the Red Centre and another 930 to Darwin in the Top End, a total of 1,885 miles. By comparison, it’s 1,760 miles from the Mexican border in Brownsville, Texas to the Canadian border in North Dakota. It’s a long way, but that’s where the comparison ends. The vast area known as the Outback has one of the lowest population densities in the world with only 775,000 people living in an area that covers about 2/3 of the continental U.S.

So, there isn’t much out there, just vast areas of arid terrain interspersed with stretches of brush (or bush in Aussie), the infrequent roadhouse or cattle station, and a few small towns like Tennant Creek or a ghost town like New Castle Waters. You might see four or five other vehicles in an hour of driving.

At the New Castle Waters ghost town.

Suddenly, the terrain changes and you pass through an interesting geological formation like Devils Marbles. We would love to get out and do a hike, but it is well over 100 degrees. The hike is a short one with big hats and bottles of cold water.

Here are a few photos from Alice Springs to Darwin and the long road in between.

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This is Sovy

Sovy – KC Sovereign Deluxe motorhome on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis.
Yulara (Uluru) overflow camping area, Northern Territory.

Many of you know that we are full-time RVrs who live and travel in a 41 foot motorhome that is affectionately named “The Dip”. Every couple of years, we park The Dip and go traveling without her, flying somewhere to travel through a foreign countryside.

Darwin, Northern Territory.

This trip, however, is different. We picked up a small motorhome in Adelaide and are now half way through a 4,500 mile trip north through the center of the country and then south down the west coast.

Looking towards the front.

So, meet Sovy, a KC Sovereign Deluxe motorhome/Mercedes Sprinter 2.2L Turbo Diesel. Sovy is 20-1/2 feet long, half as long as The Dip, and a foot narrower at 7-1/2 feet. However, The Dip has four slide-outs and is 12-1/2 feet wide when extended and Sovy has none…. After two and a half weeks in Sovy, we are still occasionally bumping into each other, but for the most part we are doing okay.

Looking towards the back.

We’ve talked about coming off the road into a permanent living arrangement and were wondering if we would like traveling in a smaller rig. We have found that there are advantages in drive-ability and maneuverability, especially because we are not towing a car. The lack of space is still in question!

The all-in-one shower and toilet room!

And, some things are quite different. Obviously, it is a right-hand drive. So everything is reversed. The door is on the left instead of the right and all of the utilities are on the right side instead of the left. The gray water hose is about one inch in diameter and RV parks are okay if you just dump it in the hedge next to you. However, the toilet is a cassette unit that has to be removed by hand and dumped at in a black water receptacle. I dumped it in a toilet today….

Pulling the black water cassette for dumping.

The adventure continues as we pull out tomorrow and head down the west coast toward Perth.

Looking for a geocache near Woomera, South Australia.
Enjoying the sunset on Uluru, Northern Territory.
Campsite at Kings Creek Station, Northern Territory.
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Postcard From The Northern Territory

Headed north on the Stewart Highway, Northern Territory

There’s several ways to get to Darwin in the Northern Territory, but only one direct route by road – straight up the Stewart Highway from Adelaide to Alice Springs, to Darwin. This is the heart of our travel – a road trip that keeps us close to the ground where we get to meet people and learn about how they live.

The Barrow Creek Hotel (pub) and roadhouse.

It’s 1,100 miles from the border with South Australia to Darwin, through a sparsely populated countryside with small towns and cattle stations (ranches) scattered across the 522,000 square miles of the Northern Territory.

Rod at the Larrimah Pink Panther Hotel where the bull shit is free….

There are long distances between fuel stops and you’re not absolutely sure that there’s going to be fuel at the next roadhouse, though there usually is. And it’s hot out here, but the funky little roadhouses offer a place where you can stretch your legs, fuel up, get a cold drink, and enjoy the character(s!). Many are old historic bars where drovers and sheep shearers stopped for a cold one before moving on down the road.

Daly Waters Pub.
A giant sculpture next to the Aileron roadhouse.
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Postcard from Kings Canyon – Watarrka National Park

Along the trail in Kings Canyon, Northern Territory

Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park is regarded as one of the most spectacular sights in central Australia. Hiking is the only way to see or experience the canyon as there are no roads along the rim or drives into the canyon itself. Due to the heat, we chose to do a couple of inner-canyon hikes to see the sights. The trails took us along dry stream beds as we walked into the gorge.

According to aboriginal dream-time lore, the ripple rock is a sign that the carpet python spirit-being rested here. The carpet python is one of the spirit beings that shaped the landscape.
Water is a scarce commodity in this dry landscape.
The spring at the end of the Kathleen Springs Walk, Watarrka National Park, Northern Territory

Cultural experiences have become very important to us. After all, these landscapes were inhabited by aboriginal people for 10’s of thousands of years before a white person saw them. They formed a complex culture with lore which regulated human behavior and connected people with the land and with each other.

Our Karrke guide demonstrates the grinding of seeds in the manner that has been passed down for thousands of years.

We spent part of an afternoon at Karrke, an Aboriginal Cultural Experience and Tour. Our guide Christine, and her partner Peter, have built this small business as a means of supporting their aboriginal community of 20 people.

Witchetty grub, a favorite bush tucker (food). When cooked in hot coals it tasted like buttered popcorn.

They told us about the culture and lore of their people, the Luritja and Pertame, and about bush medicines, bush tucker (food), art work, tool making, and much more.

Bush seeds used for jewelry.
Wild horse (non-indigenous)
Australian Ring Neck.

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