Off to the Kimberley Region & the famous Gibb River Road

It has been a little while since our last update, we have moved from Pardoo Station through to Eighty Mile Beach, Anna Plains Station, Broome and then up to Cape Leveque and back to Broome. We certainly covered a few kms in the past three weeks but some fantastic places too.

Link to a few picture here :

The campsite at Pardoo Station had grown a fair bit since our last visit in 2016, however the homestead camping was as good as we remembered, maybe better, and because the season and tides were a little different we were able to explore a little further around the station coastline.

Of course, we had a quick fish or two but the tidal ranges here are so huge you really only get a chance to fish around high tide. Plenty of time for exploring and relaxing. We crossed a few tidal flats to get to a few new creeks and rocky points but really enjoyed exploring the shores around Red Point, wandering a kilometer or mode from shore to get to the receding water line. We found a few shells which seemed exciting at the time, more of the shells later.

Eighty Mile Beach

After a few days at Pardoo and celebrating a friend’s 8th birthday with chocolate cake and coffee we went a little further up the road to Eighty Mile Beach. Zoe and Sophie were delighted to learn we had fortunately landed on the one day of the week where there was a happy hour at the small store, an “ice cream happy hour”.

Somewhat surprisingly I had never really asked how long the beach was here, just assumed the name had it covered; then I checked and found it was 140 miles. Maybe it just doesn’t sound as romantic or something, or is a victim of the Australian language’s desire to shorten everything to avoid swallowing flies when you speak.

Another couple of days spent exploring the beach, attempting to fish and enjoying a very laid back caravan park on the road to Broome before again packing up and heading north.

Anna Plains Station

We had heard about Anna Plains station only recently on our travels, it was not listed in any of the usual camping / caravan guides and we had to resort to using the phone to call and ask if they had any camping spots available, fortunately for us they did [they only have 12 spaces] and so we set off from Eighty Mile beach to drive about 100 miles north to reach the station.

The station is almost a million acres running about 20,000 head of cattle, run by just a handful of full-time and few seasonal workers. There was an old “secret” military installation and airstrip on the station, part of the British military effort back in the 50’s and 60’s linked to rocket testing going on in Woomera, South Australia. There were about 90 people at the base in its heyday but nothing much left these days apart from some concrete footings and the airstrip.

We were able to explore a largely un-spoilt part of Eighty Mile Beach, the shells on the shore providing endless opportunities for me as well as the children, we have a few pictures but it is again hard to fully capture the scenery and the huge numbers of shells on the beach. It is a marine sanctuary so the shells stayed on the beach for future generations to enjoy too.

We tried fishing the beach too but were spectacularly unsuccessful. There was a huge amount of bait fish in the water, mad mullet mainly, and the odd shark coming right into the shore to feed but we failed to land anything, so it was with a little surprise and relief to have some fish gifted to us by fellow campers who obviously knew what they were doing. Threadfin Curry, delicious.

It was a great little stay at Anna Plains, we would have liked to stay longer but we had a booking in Broome for a 20,000 km service on the truck and a regular dental checkup for the girls. So somewhat sadly we packed and headed the last 270 kms into Broome for a few days of chores and restocking before heading further north to Cape Leveque.

Broome has a fascinating [and brutal] history associated with the pearl trade, there were a few Europeans and a few hundred Asians establishing the Pearl industry in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Natural Pearls were, and remain to this day very rare, but the pearl shells were used to make buttons and Broome was supplying the world with the major share of these via the markets in London. Things changed around the time of WW1, and now apart from being at the forefront of the Cultured Pearl Industry, Broome is the major tourist town in the far north west.

Broome has fabulous weather from May until October and the world-famous Cable Beach. Whatever else you can say about Broome, (mostly about how expensive the place is), the beach melts your heart in just one glorious sunset session.

It’s a simple but stunning formula, head down to the beach in your 4WD, drive along and pick your spot then frolic around at the waters edge while watching the sun melt into the Indian Ocean. And after a few sunsets on the beach we again ventured north up the Dampier Peninsula revisiting some spots we had visited and really enjoyed on our 2016 travels and found a couple of new spots this time round.

We camped at the Gumbaban Bush campsite again, enjoying the mix of red sandy soils, golden beaches, idyllic sunsets and rich bird life on offer.

At heart I am a bit of a birdwatcher [a twitcher to those in the know], so you may imagine my delight when I got to see a Gouldian Finch again in the wild.

This is a picture I took in Healesville a while back, hence the leg tags.

These amazingly colourful finches are becoming endangered, I was fortunate to see them back in 1990, in the Keep River National Park just over the WA/NT border. To see them again was a real treat for me, no photos unfortunately and the rest of the family remains mystified as to why I was so excited. The picture below is a long tailed finch taken right next to our tent.

We day-tripped to a couple of places, Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm for a belated birthday lunch treat for Sophie and good coffee for me, and a local community at Lombadina with incredible white sandy beaches and a very smart/tidy township including an old church made from Mangrove trees and covered in paperbark for roofing. There was also a local baker making wood fired bread three days a week and we managed to buy the very last freshly baked loaf on the day we visited.

Moving south on the Peninsula we stayed at Middle Lagoon for a few days and really could or should have stayed longer, just another relaxing campsite by another fabulous set of beaches with a relaxed, friendly ambience. There were the usual conversations round the campfires about places to visit, some to miss and the trials and tribulations of life on the road. Excellent campsite conversation.

And back to Broome for a quick pit stop, a few more chores and some planning for the next 3 weeks travelling along the Gibb River Road and through the Kimberley region. There is little to no mobile phone reception along the track and only a few places to buy fuel and essential groceries, so we have a major shopping expedition tomorrow to stock up with pasta and rice 😊

So until we emerge in Kunnunurra in a few weeks’ time, console yourself that we are working hard having our adventures and school restarts on Monday, just in time for us to miss the next three weeks 😊

Regards Roy, Helen, Zoe and Sophie

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