We started with a boring two-day run along the bitumen from Kununurra to Broome. Monday night we free-camped at the Ngumpan cliffs lookout; we arrived about 15 minutes ahead of the afternoon rush to find the wobblies had already taken over the area next to the toilets and picnic table shelters so we set up camp in what we christened the camper trailer area some 50 metres away. This also steadily filled up with an assortment of vans, campers and the dreaded Apollo vans. Early Tuesday morning we headed to Fitzroy Crossing for a refuel and then set the cruise control until about 100 km from Broome where we met more traffic than we had seen for the last eight weeks which was a bit confronting. After a leisurely 25 minutes or so waiting to be released through some roadworks we propped at the Willare Roadhouse for lunch and a break of monotony before the final leg to the Palm Grove caravan park.
After setting up I headed to the local Bridgestone outlet as our RHF tyre had a slow leak which was gradually getting worse and not something I wanted to leave. The boys spent quite a while trying to find the leak but to no real avail. We established the sidewall fracture was getting worse and it was either that or a dodgy valve which was replaced and we waited to see what happened overnight.
Wednesday it was off shopping and booked in to replace the tyre as it was still leaking. An expensive decision but a risk removed and we still have along way to go before Adelaide. That night was one of several each month where you can see the moon rise over the mangrove mudflats in Roebuck Bay so we did the local night markets and then the Mangrove pub for dinner and to watch the event. Well you can read about it and see photos but I can assure you nothing beats the real thing. It is a truly amazing piece of natural theatre so, all I will say is, put it on your bucket list folks as it is worth the trip.
Thursday was another day exploring Broome as there is quite a lot of history and then a final shop before refuelling ready for our run to Middle Lagoon on Friday.
Friday was a leisurely start but on the road by 0900 with tyre pressures set for the dirt roads to come which made for slow travel on the bitumen of which there was more than we had expected. The corrugations and sandy track combined with a range of wobblies and the speedsters certainly made for a more than exciting trip until we turned into Beagle Bay for lunch and had a look at their famous Catholic church. The latter is truly beautiful and you can grab a decent coffee and sandwich at the local store. Just remember they are closed while they have their lunch. From Beagle Bay it was a relatively short run along the bitumen followed by a rather interesting dirt, sandy, corrugated track into Middle Lagoon. Having booked sight unseen way back in November this was a place we were really anticipating getting to but equally unsure of what to expect so you can imagine our joy when we found we had been allocated Ridgetop sites which means our campsites were literally on top of a dune looking west-southish across the bay/lagoon and out to the ocean. The turquoise water, dark red rocks and glistening almost white sand made for a welcoming sight. So, after setting up it was into the ocean for a dip in water that even Pauline found to be an acceptable temperature. We were lulled to sleep by the waves breaking over the beach and only a small breeze.
Well that breeze has turned into a 15 to 20 knot wind making life a touch uncomfortable today but still a wonderful spot so far. Pegs were banged in further to keep the awning from blowing away and there was a very heavy dew overnight so wet canvas was something of a surprise. We were hoping our solar panels would recharge the camper batteries as we didn’t seem to be getting enough energy from them despite having 12 hours of sunshine each day. This was a worry but with the generator available we will deal with it on return to Adelaide.
We had a slow day for once just to sit and relax which, believe it or not, has been rare since we left home. Also I wanted to stick around and keep an eye on the awnings just in case the wind turned nasty but we were hoping it would eventually die down in the evening.
We were looking forward to exploring the sights of the Dampier Peninsula over Monday before heading south on Tuesday. Next week marks the end of what I will call the planned section of this adventure. From then on we have a plan but nothing is really fixed in place so we can take our time in places we want to see more of. It will be interesting to see how the next half of our trip pans out.