Broome
The beautiful sunset over Wyndham.

Broome and beyond

It came time to leave the rugged Pilbara, with its impressive rocky desert landscapes, stunning coastlines and generally fabulous roads.  broome

Our first stop was at Barn Hill Beachside Station, 132km south of Broome and only 9km west of the Great Northern Hwy.

And it did not disappoint – great campsites above the spectacular coastline, shady trees, abundant wildlife, plenty of fresh water and… great pizzas!

The amenities here don’t have roofs – which we thought was fantastic because you could see the sky and stars.

Apparently, some people didn’t approve, according to a few comments.

However, for most of us it enhanced the Outback experience.

The beaches at Barn Hill are sandy, backed by very impressive sandstone bluffs and, because of the absence of crocodiles, you can swim there.

Off to Broome – while we had visited before, we hadn’t seen the fabulous dinosaur footprints previously.

Apparently, there are footprints scattered along 80km of coastline in this area – the closest to Broome are at Gantheaume Point, just up the road.

A stunning view from the Five Rivers Lookout on the Bastion Range overlooking Wyndham.

 

You need a fairly low tide to view them, and to be reasonably fit to climb down the rocks.

However, they were well worth the effort.

So, after many months of travelling first south, then west and north, we started steering east’ish, across the Kimberley.

It was never our intention to do the Gibb River Rd on this trip with the caravan – we were keeping that for a tented trip.

However, the iconic El Questro Station at the eastern end of the Gibb was high on our priority list.

It certainly didn’t disappoint.

Broome
The spectacular Pentecost River at El Questro.

 

Great campsites adjacent to the Pentecost River, and a restaurant, bar and store all situated nearby.

And, slightly below the restaurant, there were some small natural crocodile-safe pools to swim in that were very popular – particularly as it was October and the weather was warming up.

The local camp donkey wandered about, which was something different!

There were various four-wheel-drive tracks that showcased this impressive part of the Kimberley, which we explored, and the high points offered some fabulous views across seriously wild country.

To us, El Questro was surprisingly busy for that time of year.

Great campsites adjacent to the Pentecost River, and a restaurant, bar and store all situated nearby.

And, slightly below the restaurant, there were some small natural crocodile-safe pools to swim in that were very popular – particularly as it was October and the weather was warming up.

The local camp donkey wandered about, which was something different!

There were various four-wheel-drive tracks that showcased this impressive part of the Kimberley, which we explored, and the high points offered some fabulous views across seriously wild country.

To us, El Questro was surprisingly busy for that time of year.

Broome
Our donkey friend at El Questro Station.

 

However, our Savannah Guide friend Steve – who is stationed there – reckoned it was actually quietening down.

Unfortunately for some, each day a recovery truck or two would come into the campground to load up vans, campers or vehicles that had succumbed to the Gibb River Rd.

From there, we were off to Wyndham – on the northeast Kimberley coastline.

We loved this little frontier town.

It had tons of authentic character and history, wonderful landscapes of clay plans, rocky bluffs of the Bastion Range and the vast waters of the Cambridge Gulf.

Wyndham is situated near the junction of five Kimberley rivers that enter the gulf – the Ord, Pentecost, Durack, King and Forrest rivers – and the best way to view this vast expanse of

water is from the Five Rivers Lookout on the Bastion Range, slightly out of town.

The museum was excellent and the caravan park was first class.

This was a great area for photographers and naturalists as well as anglers, with wildlife and rugged landscapes in abundance.

One day I headed out to Parry’s Lagoon, where waterbirds were congregated in big numbers, as it was the peak of the dry season.

A dinosaur footprint near Broome – such an amazing record of Australia’s past.

 

Barramundi and tarpon were dying due to the low oxygen levels in the water and were being feasted upon by kites and jabiru.

Next stop was Kununurra, which surprised us as a modern and prosperous town.

This was largely because of Lake Argyle, which allows a wide range of farming thereabouts, including for sandalwood.

Our van park was on the bank of the mighty Ord River, where people were fishing and water-skiing without having to worry about estuarine crocodiles.

It was a lovely spot.

Then on to Lake Argyle, which was truly impressive for its size and rugged scenery.

Our sunset boat cruise got smashed by the first storm of the season, so while we didn’t get to see the sunset, it was truly memorable!

From there we were on the homeward run.

Broome
The spectacular Pentecost River at El Questro.

 

We had commitments back at Cape York – including a trip to Chilli Beach – and as it happened, the days had started to hit around 40C, plus the storms were well and truly ramping up.

As much as we enjoyed all the exploring, wonderful sights and friendly people on the trip, I have to say that seeing the ‘Welcome to Queensland’ sign slightly west of Camooweal was a wonderful sight!

I may be parochial, but Queensland truly is the best state in Australia.

All up we covered 23,000km and used between 13.4-16.2 litres per hundred kilometres towing the van.

The jockey wheel rattled to bits on a rough Pilbara road and I had to repair the handbrake on the van at Port Hedland – it lost a bolt.

Though… not one flat tyre!

The Land Rover Discovery drove faultlessly, except for the dreaded ‘reduced performance’ warning light that came on as we approached Katherine.

One battery terminal was slightly loose, so after a disconnect and reconnect, it was good again.

And that’s a wrap – we truly do live in an amazing country!

Note, this trip was done before the recent flooding in the Broome and Kimberley regions.

About Barry 'Baz' Lyon

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