Perth & Fremantle
Since it is a very long flight from Amsterdam to Perth, we decided to stay one night in Kuala Lumpur at the Pan Pacific airport hotel. A very nice hotel only a 5 minutes walk or two minutes buggy shuttle drive from the arrival hall.
From Kuala Lumpur it is "only" six hours by plane to Perth on the west coast of Australia. We stayed at the very conveniently located Aarons hotel in Pier Street. Perth is a big city with huge skyscrapers and modern traffic jam, but also with the cute Perth tram.
On the other side of the Swan river is the zoo. It isn't a very big zoo but it is nice and as a good start of our Australia holiday we saw a lot of kangaroos, birds and other animals.
Fremantle, about half an hour by train away from Perth, is a relaxed town with nice terraces and the Shipwrecks museum with the wreck of the old Dutch ship Batavia.
Already in the Netherlands we had hired a Apollo 4WD campervan through Dutch Down Under. From Perth we drove north first to Yanchep National Park. The few koalas the rangers take care for are very nice. The Pinnacles dessert near Cervantes is very interesting. Thousands of limestone pillars are standing on the sand. Even with a 2WD you can easily drive the gravel/sand road, weather permitting.
In Kalbarri NP we preferred to use the 4WD. The road to the Loop and Z-Bend was ok but still very bumpy. The easy walk to Nature's window is not that easy at all if you are not an experienced rock climber. Z-Bend is easier to walk to and from the edge the views are magnificent. At the other side of town the cliffs are very impressive and if you like you can climb down to the water.
The Monkey Mia caravan park is always very busy. If you like to stay there you have to book far in advance. We didn't, so we had to drive back to Denham. From the Seaside Tourist Village you can have a great view over the ocean, though it sometimes is a bit windy.
Monkey Mia is famous for its dolphins and the dolphins feeding. When we were there a family of at least seven dolphins turned up several times. You have to follow the rules of behaviour and are not allowed to swim with them in the feeding zone, but you can do so in the area next to the zone. And there are not only dolphins :-)
From Denham to Coral Bay is about 560 km, a good 6-7 hours driving. Coral Bay is a tiny village of about 150 inhabitants, but with a lot of tourists, who all like to snorkel, dive or swim either with or without manta rays or whale sharks. We enjoyed the trip with a glass bottom boat including some snorkelling and saw many beautiful fish and coral.
On the way to Exmouth you will pass two very scenic 4WD roads. Charles Knife road follows the ridges of the range while Shothole Gorge road follows the canyon.
Cape Range NP is west of Exmouth. Camping there is very basic, so we stayed in Exmouth. Flying around in a small Cessna plane gives good views of the Ningaloo Reef and e.g. Yardie Creek which we visited the next day.
Karijini & Millstream Chichester NP
Never forget that Australia is a very vast country and that distances are very long. From Exmouth to the Pilbarra, near Tom Price, is 600 km and the last 70 km to Tom Price are dirt. Check your fuel level regularly, since there are not many fuel stations in the outback, so you might have to visit every roadhouse to fill up again. Karijini is a wonderful park with many gorges, falls, cascades and permanent pools. Nice for a swim.
The bush campsite at Dales Gorge is basic with pit toilets, no water or showers, but with gas barbecues. In the dark the stars are shining brilliantly. Unfortunately there are also many dingo's whining loudly at night.
The road to Millstream Chichester NP, north of Karijini, sometimes is very narrow, especially near Hamersley Gorge. Millstream is less rough than Karijini, though you can still find gorges and quiet pools where you can spend the night at the bush camp. Near the visitor centre many kangaroos are jumping around.
Heading north towards Whim Creek you pass the Python pool; a must for a swim. At our map a fuel station was mentioned at Whim Creek. Please be aware that this station doesn't have fuel any more! We filled up in Auski roadhouse, the last possibility to get diesel before entering the outback again, but even with our 77 litre tank we had to use the fuel in our jerry cans to reach Port Hedland.
From Port Headland to Broome is a very long and boring 600 km road. There is nothing interesting to see or do, so it is best to start early, so you will have some time in the afternoon to walk around town.
After so many days and nights in the campervan we loved to stay in a nice hotel again. The Ocean lodge has clean rooms, a beautiful garden with bbq's and a nice swimming pool. The only negative point is that, if you don't have a car, it is a bit far away from everything.
On the way to Fitzroy Crossing we made a stop in Derby to see the old boab prison. This is a huge tree that end 19th century was used as a temporary prison before the prisoners were sent to Derby.
In our opinion Fitzroy Crossing is not very interesting, but Geikie Gorge nearby is. In the Dry season you can made a one hour boat trip through the gorge. Freshies and lots of birds can be seen. In Fitzroy Crossing the old low level bridge can't be used any longer. In the past people had to cross the river over this bridge which during the Wet was impossible.
Fitzroy Crossing is a good starting point for the Gibb River Road if you also like to see Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge. Though it had rained the day before the road was open and we could visit the gorge.
Unfortunately the road to Silent Grove and Bell Creek was closed, so we had to find another place to spend the night. A nice bush camp without any facilities is near Saddler Creek. Though it is very close to the main road it is quiet, relaxed and romantic. The next day, 21st May 2007 both Imintji Store and Mt Barnett roadhouse got fuel again for the first time since November 2006. So we were very lucky we could drive the Gibb River Road.
The gorges on the way to Mt Barnett are very pretty. We visited both Adcock Gorge and Galvans Gorge. The latter is a very nice spot for a swim.
The crossing of creeks and rivers on the Gibb was one of the most spectacular things we have ever done. At first it is a bit scary, but after a few creeks it is great fun. When crossing the Pentecost never leave your car, since there are salties in the river and they are very dangerous.
After the Pentecost crossing El Questro is not far. It is some kind of oasis; they have fuel, a restaurant, a nice campsite, bungalows and a helicopter with which we made a wonderful heli ride over the gorges and the big Pentecost and Chamberlain rivers.
We spent some time in Kununurra, waiting for the boat trip over Lake Kununurra. In the meantime Mirima NP was a nice place to go. The walks are again not so easy, but the views were nice.
Triple J tours brought us by bus to Lake Argyle dam. The return was a boat cruise over the Ord river.
Bungle Bungle NP or Purnululu NP is about 350 km south of Kununurra of which the last 50 km is rough dirt road with a very tricky river crossing. Do the crossing from right to left and you won't hit the gap or the rock. The park is famous for its beehive domes and for some spectacular walks. Cathedral Gorge and Domes trail are rather close to Walardi campsite, where we spent the first night.
Close to Walardi is the Bellburn airstrip and heli port. The 30 minutes heli ride is an experience never to be forgotten. You not only fly over the beehive domes but also over deep gorges and big rocks.
At the north side of the Park is the other campsite, Kurrajong. From there it is about 14 km to Echidna Chasm. Especially the last part of this road is very rough with a lot of stones. Sometimes a speed of 10 km is more than fast enough. Echidna Chasm is a very narrow gorge and the walk trail follows a pebbly creek bed upstream. At some places you have to climb over rocks and at the end there are some steps. The chasm is only a few metres wide and the sides are more than 180 m high.
The last few days of our holiday we drove first to the hot springs in Katherine and from there to Kakadu. In Kakadu are a lot of termite mounds; and the rivers are full of salties and fishing in those rivers is not a very wise idea. Though some people do not seem to be afraid.
We had been in Darwin before and we liked to see once more our favourite spots, e.g. Cullen Bay with the beautiful houses and nice boats. We wouldn't mind to have one of those :-) Quite a contrast to Mitchell Street, the street where we stayed before. This time we could not complain about our hotel and pool. Darwin Airport Resort is a very fine place to be and very convenient if your flight leaves early.
last revision: 6 July 2007
Marion & Jaap Fahrenfort-Nietfeld