Trip Report: Big Caravan Trip Part 2 – Darwin to Broome

The last few weeks have been filled with scenic gorges, amazing swimming holes, lots of dust and endless kilometres of corrugated roads. This post covers our time in Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley in Western Australia including the Gibb River Road (GRR).

The Buley rock holes at Litchfield offered great swimming in a number of small pools.
Florence Falls at Litchfield
Florence Falls at Litchfield
Victoria River
Lake Argyle is home to an estimated 25,000 freshwater crocodiles
The sunset cruise at Lake Argyle. Note the life ring doubles as a floating dip and drink dispenser.
Sunset at Lake Argyle
The Lake Argyle spillway reminded me of some rivers in New Zealand.
Time to hit the Gibb River Road

Towering palms at the start of the walk into El Questro Gorge.

We stayed at the El Questro campground for 4 nights. There are plenty of gorges to visit and walks to do. If you are planning on doing scenic helicopter flights and river cruises etc you might want to stay a bit longer. The meals at the Steakhouse restaurant were very good and not too expensive when you consider how remote it is.

This is the half way point of the El Questro Gorge walk. To continue further up the gorge you need to wade/swim through the water and climb up the rocks on the left or the small waterfall on the right.
El Questro Gorge
Moon rise over the Pentecost River at El Questro
Emma Gorge at El Questro was the coldest of all the swimming holes we visited
Emma Gorge
Emma Gorge
The first casualty – one of the Prado fog lights fell out. Luckily I never use them.
The driveway into El Questro has a couple of easy water crossings
Crossing the Pentecost River on the Gibb River Road. The water was very shallow when we went through.
We passed through Home Valley station for a quick look. It had a pool and seemed quite nice but didn’t have the natural attractions of El Questro.
There are Boab trees everywhere in the Kimberley. Home Valley.

The GRR has a reputation of being quite rough and when you are towing a caravan you need to take it easy. At the time we went through there was about 130km of the GRR that was pretty unpleasant with speed at times dropping to 10-15 km/h. The condition of the road changes each year and depends on the when the road was last graded/maintained.

If you are driving a 4WD (especially a rental) and not towing,  you could probably drive much of the road at 60-80 km/h.

When the Gibb River Road got lumpy the kids could run faster than I could drive.
Ellenbrae Station was a pleasant place to spend the night and is kind of famous for their scones. Note that the camping area is dusty whereas the homestead is nice and grassy (pictured above).
The swimming hole at Ellenbrae station was about 15 minutes drive from the campground.
We started to have some concerns about the brakes…..
Amyo enjoying the best of the Kimberley

We were planning on taking the caravan up the Kalumburu Road to Drysdale River and then taking the Prado and the tent up to Mitchell Falls. But having heard stories of the road destroying countless cars, camper trailers and caravans and with some concerns about our brakes we decided to leave the Kalumburu Road for next time….

Manning Gorge was our favourite swimming hole. The gorge was about 45 minutes walk from the campground. We only stayed 2 nights but wish we stayed for 3.
Manning Gorge
Manning Gorge
We spent hours swimming at Manning Gorge and jumping off the cliffs. SAFETY WARNING: Make sure you check for submerged rocks and objects.
There is even a great swimming hole at the Manning Gorge campground – because you will want to cool off after the walk back from the gorge.
The track into the Manning Gorge campground.
It was time to seek professional assistance on our brake problem – and the only mechanic on the GRR is Over the Range Tyre and Mechanical Repairs. We got great service at their open air workshop and the guys had us back on the road in an hour.
Galvans Gorge had a great waterhole with a rope swing which was very popular with the kids.
Bell Gorge was another great swimming hole
Our caravan has a “feature” known as a tunnel boot. It is a 2.4 metre wide storage locker with a small hatch on each side. It is not very ergonomic and I sometimes have to send the kids in get something out – but this time I had to butter up my shoulders and climb in myself.
Queen Victoria Head on the Gibb River Road
Tunnel Creek Cave. How does wading through a cave filled with bats and freshwater crocodiles sound?
Prado 1 – Boab Nil
The Prison Boab tree near Derby.
Sunset at Broome’s Cable Beach. There are 4WD’s as far as the eye can see plus a few adventurous tourists on mopeds and 2WD rental cars.
Sunset at Cable Beach
Access on and off Cable Beach is through a 1 lane bottle neck – and camels have right of way. This is what I call a CamJam.
The sunset camel tours at Cable Beach are quite popular (I felt sorry for the young bloke working for one of the operators who had to follow the train and pick up the camel deposits).
After restocking in Broome we headed up towards Cape Leveque and spent 4 very relaxing days at Middle Lagoon. Thanks to John and Pam for the tip on this great spot. We could sit at the campsite and watch the whales passing by.
Not happy Jan…..The Cape Leveque Road worked its magic on my exhaust pipe so we had to stop in Broome and get some stuff to stick it back on.

The trip is going well and we survived the Gibb River Road. I thought the caravan would be our weak point but to my surprise it has been the Prado that caused us more trouble. We have done about 9,000 kilometres so far and used 2,000 litres of unleaded. Stay tuned for my next post which will cover Karijini National Park and the Ningaloo Reef.

Trip Report by Amyo: The start of our big caravan adventure

Greetings, it’s me Amyo. For those of you that haven’t read one of my earlier posts, well you should know that I try to write my blog with PASSION!!! When my parents first told me about this trip I thought it was a really bad idea.  I tried to squiggle my way out of it without success. It was really hard to say goodbye to my pets and friends knowing that it would be a really long time before I saw them again. At first it was really hard and I was always thinking about them but I soon got over it. And yes, there has been some times where I wish I was home. Also, I would kind of like my personal space again but it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. These are just some of the highlights and interesting things so far.

Sometimes you just got to make do. COOBER PEDY, SA

Because we don’t have much room in our van we have to improvise. Maybe we might have to turn our van into a washing line!

What do you think this is???? COOBER PEDY, SA

Coober Pedy is known for its opals, right? Well you have no idea how serious it is until you go there. There are piles of rubble everywhere. Also, if you walk down the main street half the shops are devoted to opals/jewellery. We were lucky enough to be able to go into Toms Working Opal Mine. We got to walk through the mines and look for opal. We got given a UV light and that enables you to see the opal in the walls and it was everywhere.

Now I know why they called this the Valley of the Winds walk. KATA TJUTA/ THE OLGAS, NT

Kata Tjuta was a beautiful place. It was very hot but when you got in the shade and the wind was blowing it cooled down quickly.

This is Ray, the dragon. ULURU/AYERS ROCK, NT

We found this little fellow at our campsite at Uluru. He was really friendly so I called him Ray because he reminds me of a little ray of sunshine. We took a picture of him (obviously) so when we got to Darwin we asked some people whether they knew what he was and everyone said some sort of dragon.

Is this pink tree the only normal thing around here??? DALY WATERS PUB, NT

For those of you that haven’t been to the Daly Waters Pub, it’s something quite, how can I put this? Interesting. There are underpants hanging on the walls and peoples ID scattered around. Let’s just say that, from the outside it looks completely normal and then you step inside and it’s a whole different story. But on the plus side, their food is good.

I’ve heard people say that there are crocs in here so can we make this snappy!? Ooo, that was not a good choice of words! BITTER SPRINGS, NT

Bitter Springs was really nice. It was a warm river thing that you floated down and then when you got to the end you hopped out, walked back up and hopped back in. Even though there were lots of signs that said crocs inhabit this area we didn’t see any.

Either the aboriginals had a crazy imagination or there are some creatures we don’t know about. UBIRR, KAKADU, NT

The aboriginals made up all sorts of stories to either explain why something happens/ happened or to tell people what is the correct behaviour. Often the aboriginals painted these stories on the rock so that people could remember it. The aboriginals never drew these paintings expecting that it would still be there thousands of years later.

Just what we need to make an awesome photo. Swampland + Sunset = Awesome photo! Like I said. UBIRR, KAKADU, NT
Yep, that’s a fake smile. They say that these Stimsons Pythons don’t bite, I’m not so sure. DARWIN, NT

Holding a snake feels weird. You can feel all their bones and muscles moving around.

Oh, and you didn’t think that we would be able to make it through the trip without getting a flat tyre, did you? LITCHFIELD, NT

We got our first flat tyre the day we left Darwin. If only we discovered it earlier.

Good night all you termites out there. Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite. LITCHFIELD, NT

Termite mounds are really very clever. They keep out the wind, rain and they’re fire proof. Pretty cool home right?

Are you sure we’re supposed to be this close to the fire? LITCHFIELD, NT

While we were in the Northern Territory there were lots of controlled fires. You could walk right up next to it and no one would care.

New state = New adventure. BORDER/ QUARANTINE, WA

We are going to spend most of our trip in WA so we were all really excited. The day before we were going into WA we brought 3 kilos of oranges, 1 kilo of apples and a whole heap of other fruit. Because we couldn’t take it into WA we gave a whole heap to some people that we met in Timber Creek and we also cut up heaps of fruit to eat in the car but we still had to chuck heaps out.

So far, our trip has been really fun (well besides all the long days of driving). I can’t wait to get back home. Sure, there are thing that aren’t perfect but we have to make do for the time being. Oh and I forgot to mention we made it through the Gibb River Road and on the way we stopped at some amazing places.

I will be writing some more posts throughout the trip (maybe) so make sure you read them. Remember, don’t focus on the past because you’ll miss the future. Goodbye and I hope you liked my post. 😊😊😊☹😊