Western Australia: 2005 Drive from Broome to Perth…
I will always remember the stunning scenery we went through and the experience of driving 3,060 kms from Broome to Perth almost unaided, with detours to Monkey Mia and Coral Bay, which added the extra 600 to the trip. Without those highlights, it would have been driving through some very straight, hot scenery with little relief from anything.
Traveling with a smoker meant that there were regular smoko breaks which slowed the driving time somewhat, but also gave me non-movement time for photographs, and small explorations of mostly hot sand.
The very high temperatures were far too hot for European skin, and my travel mate was Swedish and very white. He was to suffer very badly from the heat. I survived with my olive, and already tanned skin. So if you are from the north where it is winter, you need to take ultra extra precautions to protect your skin from the harsh australian high summer climate, if you ever decide to do this trip.
I purchased a spray deodorant, that I sprayed around my body to try and lessen some of the sweating. A water spray may be better for those until they acclimatize. We averaged 600 kms a day in 48-degree heat, and the van’s air-conditioner just could not handle the temperatures, so we were driving in very difficult conditions, with no relief and unrelentless heat, with a deadline to meet, so there was no turning back.
Broome was very hot, and the crocodile farm was even hotter, and it was even hotter still, standing around following the feeding tour. I found sweat was literally pouring down my forehead, and it was very tiring and enervating. It was not easy following the tourists around trying to take photographs with sweat dripping onto the camera.
The drive to Port Hedland of 670kms in high temperature was difficult. The scenery was exciting, because it was so different. There was red earth, termite mounds, desert vegetation and dry desert wildflowers. The scenery was fascinating to me, because I love plants, deserts, rocks, birds, and everything.
Then I got lost trying to find the Caravan Park at Point Cook. The Park was hot, and there were a few vans around and no-where to really relax. We sat inside and I downloaded photos and used the computer.
Next morning I again got hopelessly lost trying to get out of Port Hedland. I took some photos of the iron works and the BP Train. The long BP Iron Ore train was over 150 carriages, and there was a huge salt pile just before you got to Port Hedland. We had to ask directions to find the main road and went on another 200kms to Roebourne, where I stopped to take photos of the gaol and to go to the Museum, which was unfortunately closed.
Then there was a hellishly long drive to Nunamara. We stayed at the Roadhouse. It was hot, dusty, and the few people who were there were not friendly. I sat inside and played with the computer and my photos. It was actually awful. It was dark and sort of creepy, but the shower was air-conditioned, so spent an hour there next morning just cooling before we left.
There was a beautiful river next to the roadhouse, and it has many birds and a great place for photographs and exploring. It looked positively gorgeous as we drove over the bridge.
We turned off towards Exmouth to see the Gorges, and I drove up to the summit of Knife Edge Road absolutely shaking with terror, as I drove the motor van along a very steep climb, along a very dusty and very bumpy road. There was no place to stop, turn or return. I stopped the first chance I got, and he actually drove the motor home nearly to the very top.
It was horrible as we were on 4WD territory, and the van was like upright in first gear most of the way, but again, nowhere to stop, turn or return till the next landing nearly at the very top. I made him turn around there and return.The scenery was spectacular. Deep gorges were down below and on the sides, and the winding road stretched ahead, and Exmouth Gulf was far below in the distance. I took many photos
Then we went along the Shot Hole Road, again 4WD territory, bumpy and gutted, but we got to the end, had lunch and returned.
I drove then to Coral Bay, and drove down to the see the beach before turning into the caravan park. We parked the van and I changed and went and slept on the beach till sunset. The beach was very beautiful. I heard two girls talking about the whales and manta rays further down the bay, and decided to walk down there next day. I swam and lay in a dune and actually slept a bit looking at the beautiful bay with the anchored yachts.
We had dinner at the Hotel, and next morning went walking to the beach to hire a snorkel. We were told to walk to the end of the bay and snorkel back, but he did not wish to leave his things, so walked the sands carrying our gear. I tried snorkeling but was a bit scared, so he went off learning how to snorkel, and I returned to the beach, and lay out in the sun letting the beach and waves and beauty relax me.
He snorkeled back, and I carried our belongings. It was very hot and I slipped once on the rocks and nearly wet my camera. He came into shore quite exhausted, and we walked back together, and he was very burnt from the sun. He kept refusing to put on sunblock.
We showered, lunched and I drove to Overland Roadhouse, which was about 400 kms. I asked him to drive, as I needed a break. A rock hit us as a safety vehicle raced past. A bus driver advised us that it was too dangerous for us to drive another 179kms in the dusk and dark, because of Kangaroos. We made it to Hamlin Pool just as the sun was setting, and the pool and sky was wonderful. I took many photos of the sunset. The Stromatolites looked magic in the sunset light, and it was a beautiful experience.
We parked the van, the toilet facilities were a hot walk away, and I tried a cold shower before they turned the generator off. He was not feeling too well and it was a very hot, boring and rather dull.
The drive from the pools to Denham, was even more uninteresting, but I thought Denham was a beautiful coastal town and worth visiting. Monkey Mia was 29 kms past Denham. There was one ecology centre at Monkey Mia, which charged entry, to stand in the water with a line of tourists, to see 3 dolphins for less than 10 minutes. Not very inspiring but I did get some wonderful pelican photos.
The sun was hot on my shoulders. I too had had enough sun after the day before, and my body was starting to hurt too. We had a drink and smoke on the veranda, and left Monkey Mia after staying there about 30 minutes, after driving 220kms to get there. There was nothing more to hold us there. Tourists were able to go out on the Catamarans or have a camel ride.
The road was even more dry and dull as I was losing my sparkle too, and I drove to Geraldton just trying to get there. I stopped to photograph St Mary’s Church just before Geraldton, as I love the tower and residential monastery there. I taught there in 2003, so this was now familiar territory for me. We drove to Geraldton over some new roadwork in progress, which was quite confusing. Then I saw a caravan park and we pulled in there, and we parked and stayed there.
We walked on the beach, photographed the sunset, then walked to the hotel across the road after a lobster dinner. It turned out that they were selling fresh lobsters. We bought a couple and took them back to the caravan park and I cooked them for dinner. I downloaded photos and used computer till it was time to sleep. We were far too tired to go wandering.
Next morning, he got up looking very ill, indeed saying he had an infection. I knew it was the heat, suggested a cold shower and gave him 2 Panadol and suggested a sleep. It was a couple of hours before we could leave, and I drove back to Perth whilst he sat sadly, looking miserable the entire trip. I realised the trip was far too much for anyone not used to the heat. It was far harder than even I realised.
The coast road was better but because of time, it seemed pointless to do the longer drive. The Christmas trees were out in beautiful glory, and the Wheatfield’s and farms were very beautiful. After Geraldton, the desert was no more, now it was ranches and wheat and farmland mostly and long stretches of scrub. Much of it looked like the Victorian farmlands from the east. This is very rich and powerful country.
Came back to The Oasis, in the Swan Valley where I was living, cleaned out the van, drove it back to Britz to discover he had not collected nor kept one receipt for petrol, so we forfeited our $150.00 petrol rebate. We were also a day late.
I walked out and waited for a taxi to take me back home.
It was an amazing adventure and I enjoyed it far more than my poor traveling companion, but then I am accustomed to the heat a little more than him, as I have been living in the Deserts for a few years.
For anyone trying the same trip, please use sun block, for the air will burn you, and the ultra violet rays are very, very strong. Take an ice chest with crushed ice from day 1 and keep drinking icy water. The half cold water was no good. Also do not drink water on the way. I forgot about this rule as I automatically do not drink out of town water, and desert artesian water can be uncomfortable to sensitive palettes. Too much smoking will affect you as breathing normally is difficult enough in the heat, so keep the smoking down or chew gum or mints to cut the craving, and wear a hat at all times in the sun to protect your head especially if you are balding on top.
The final hint is to wear thin, light clothing. Heavy materials will only hold the heat and make you sweat even more, and bring some water in a spray to freshen up with. I yearned for my water spray and face freshener very much.
The Outback is harsh, and the Outback is relentless, but the Outback
is also stunningly beautiful and hauntingly captivating for those
able to overcome her difficulties.
See photos at webshots…. My artist name is Ladymaggic