Tag Archives: outback Australia

It will come as no surprise to some that I took thousands of photographs on the trip to the Kimberley last year.  I’m scanning those pics to find those that didn’t feature in the blog (mostly) and give them a treatment with Grungetastic.  Here are seven of them, up to and including Halligan Bay at Lake Eyre.

Pelican at Innamincka

Pelican - Grungetastic - Worn 3Caldega Ruins

Caldega Ruins - Grungetastic - Worn 3

The Birdsville Pub

Birdsville Hotel - Grungetastic - Distressed 16

abandoned truck in Birdsville

old truck - Birdsville - Grungetastic - Worn 6

barbed wire – near Birdsville

barbed wire - Birdsville - Grungetastic - Worn 16

Lake Eyre Yacht Club – Marree

Lake Eyre Yacht Club - Grungetastic - Gritty 18

Halligan Bay – Lake Eyre shore

Lake Eyre Shores - Grungetastic - Worn 1

in our wake

This is the last post in the “on the road” category until we set off on the next trip on the menu – time and destination at this point unknown.  (Please note – the blog will continue on other themes as usual).

As I watched the wake at the end of today’s boat trip, I started to reflect on what will be stored in the memory bank.  Not in any particular order, here’s a selection for deposit.

bloody van 1


moon on Wolfe Creek Crater

big skies

on top of the dune - Big Red

big dunes

Lizard Racing Track

bush entertainment


country pubs


tides writ large from the air

deck chairs - Broome's outdoor cinema

outdoor cinema

road train on the Tanami

road trains


small towns

Bitter Springs reflection 1

swimming holes

Closed sign - Fran's Teahouse

care-free attitudes

Old Derby gaol


Wyndham - Rusty Shed Cafe

good coffee in out-of-the-way places

Chambers Pillar 1

tall features in the desert

1 August wildflower


Blanche Cup


Giekie Gorge afternoon 1


Matso's Brewery

alcoholic ginger beer at Matso’s

fishing beach - Cape Leveque

white sand beaches

Freshie - Lake Argyle


1 Aug - behind Little Merten Falls


Kati Thandi - Lake Eyre sunset



eating out

1 Aug - ripped tyre

evidence of road conditions

fresh tracks

over 17,000 kilometres

Flight 3

awesome aerial views

blue winged kookaburra water colour and pencil

bird life

Five Rivers Lookout 1

big landscapes

Purnululu fire place

campfire conversations

Today it was south on the Tablelands Highway, a narrow stretch of bitumen through scrubby grassland and then east on the Barkly where the trucks frequent.  Note that no matter how far off the beaten track you go, you can’t forget there’s an election happening.

Tablelands Highway 1

Tablelands Highway 4

Tablelands Highway 3Tablelands Highway 2Barkly Highway 3Barkly Highway 2Barkly Highway 1

The wind was making its presence felt from the early hours of this morning on the Cape. It was enough to rule out some planned activities including a tidal boat trip out of Cygnet Bay cancelled due to the choppy waters.

We took a drive along the beach allocated to fishing.

fishing beach - Cape Leveque

These fellows are demonstrating what it’s like to tempt crocodiles from deeper beach waters.

fishermen tempting crocodiles - Cape Levequea drive on the beachOn a clear day, the lighthouse stands white and proud.
on a clear dayThe beach ride required 18 psi on the tyres (note how well I’m picking up the jargon after 8 weeks on the road).  Here’s where we pumped up again.


morning fire on Kooljaman roadOn the way out, we noticed this small fire on the road.

Thence it was on to Cygnet Bay where the tide was rushing in over the mangroves. We checked out the pearl farm guided tour in lieu of the boat trip.

tide coming in - Cygnet Bay mangrovesAs we turned into the road coming back from Cygnet Bay, another driver coming out let us know that the camp was in lock down.  This may have been the reason.

what's that skip, a fire?The staff were in full fire management mode before water tanks, police and fire officers arrived on the scene. A few of the campers got into the swing of things too.

campers on the jobThis chopper hovered above just as flames were being extinguished around the lighthouse.

As I write there are still spot fires emerging and being managed as they occur.  It’s handy having a UHF radio and listening in on what’s happening.

news helicopterThe lighthouse pic to the left is what it was like yesterday.  Smoke certainly got into our eyes today.
smoky lighthouseCape Leveque lighthouse

And so to the tip of the Dampier Peninsula with sand roads for the first half and bitumen on the home stretch.  For a region in winter it sure is heating up.  It was still 35 degrees at 6.30 this evening.

road from Broome to Cape Leveque

We made tracks to the lighthouse and down to the eastern beach soon after we arrived, then across to the other side of the peninsula to absorb some more red sand moments as the sun set.

fresh tracksCape Leveque lighthouse
western beach Cape Leveque sunsetwestern beach at Cape Leveque

sun on sand sunset - Cape LevequeCape Leveque sunset - gull

On the windows of one of the buildings at the Broome Museum, these Country Women’s Association tea towels on display also act as curtains to keep out the heat of the day.

CWA tea towels - Broome Museum

The museum, run by the local Historical Association, contains informative displays on the pearling industry, the impacts of World War II, and the provision of critical infrastructure such as the local telephone exchange, cinemas and pubs. The social history of this multicultural town is well documented with objects, ephemera, short film and documentary screenings.

There are many stories of the influence of women in Broome, including some who continued the family business of pearling on the death of their spouse.

Dorothea May Nelson - Pearler

It’s not just scones and jam and social networks that the CWA provides to its members. This excerpt comes via Trove Australia and The West Australian of 22 October 1932, demonstrating the financial support given to the work of the Flying Doctor Service in its early days of operation across the outback.

An interesting feature of these plants is that no technical knowledge of wireless or the Morse code is required by the operators, many of whom are women residing at the stations. The plant comprises a portable pedal generator, worked by the operator’s feet — similarly to the pedals of a bicycle – ear-phones, and a transmitting keyboard resembling that of a typewriter. If the operator desires to summon the flying doctor or to ask his advice on a medical problem she merely taps out her message on to the lettered toy board, and it is automatically translated into morse by a cam device on the instrument. The transmitters are designed to work on medium or short waves, so that if the message fails to get through on one wave, it can be transmitted on another. The doctors reply to the message is sent out by radio phone from Cloncurry by means of an engine-driven transmitter, and picked up on the earphones by the operator at the station. The amateur operators of the outposts keep in practice by sending everyday messages as well as calls for medical aid, and last year over 3,000 radiograms were handled in this way. Each outpost is communicated with daily, but in addition emergency calls can be put through to the watchers at the Cloncurry base at certain specified hours. The installation land maintenance costs of the wireless plants are contributed to by the station owners, although special concessions have been made in deserving cases. A number of plants have been provided by the CountryWomen’s Association where backblock dwellers were in financial difficulties. 

Dear ones, please don’t be alarmed if suddenly the words drop off the paper as I fall into the first real state of relaxation for more than seven weeks.  We are in Broome.  The van was fixed yesterday so we are no longer living with the risk of roof drop. All the work is out of the way. Today it was time to chill.

Lunch at Zanders on Cable Beach included a cold mango smoothie and this view.

where the fence line meets the horizonThe bathers and umbrellas were like hundreds and thousands on the beach.

Cable beach swimmers

The dune plants were busy restoring the stability of the sand beneath them.

dune flowers - Cable Beach

Over at the port, the commercial transactions on the jetty were taking place alongside stunning beaches, people fishing and birds sunning themselves on the rocks. It’s possible we may be here for sometime.

The Broome Cup is on tomorrow. We are planning an assault on our purses based purely on the names of the nags and the vibe of the thing. I will report the outcome as truthfully as I can bring myself to when the day is done.

Broome Port jetty

Broome seascape 2Broome seascape 1pelicans and friends

The sand flats and mangrove systems around Derby make spectacular views and patterns to capture. The tree-like shapes formed as the big tides recede are amazingly beautiful.Derby sand flats landscape from air 2Derby sand flats landscape from air 1

We were on a Cessna Caravan sea plane to see the famous Horizontal Falls, formed by the incoming and outgoing tides as they make their way through narrow gaps in the ranges.
Horizontal Falls 2Horizontal Falls 1

sea planeTalbot Bay narrow gap - Horizontal Falls

The tide lines are evident on this shot.  The dark line is the oyster line.  The tides routinely fall up and down to the top of the white line every day.

Tide lines - Horizontal FallsWe also met a few Tawny Nurse Sharks.Tawny Nurse Shark

and were reminded that this landscape is indeed very ancient.

Compression layers - Cyclone Creek

Thursday 8 August

Nothing like a good night’s sleep and a new day to clear the bad vibes.  Besides which, we had a canoe waiting to be paddled on Dimond Gorge.

This Crimson Finch was one of many flitting and feeding around the grasses near our camp around breakfast time.

Crimson Finch 1 - Mornington camp ground

Here are some of the highlights all of which, except for the dragon fly shots, were taken from the front of the yellow canoe in the company of a bottle of water and a waterproof picnic hamper for lunch. I dread to think how I would have navigated my way around this body of water if I’d gone solo. The master of the craft at the helm kept minds and bodies on course.

Dimond Gorge canoe trip 1Dimond Gorge canoe trip 2

Egret - Dimond Gorge, Morningtondragon fly 2 - Dimond Gorge, Morningtondragon fly - Dimond Gorge, Mornington

5-6 August

A visit to the Museum ended our time in Kalumburu then it was on the road again back to Drysdale Station to repack the van and get ready for more of the Gibb River Road and Manning Gorge.

We had another good quality buffet meal at Drysdale and met lots of interesting people around the fire after dinner.

On the way to Manning Gorge we stopped for a detour and lunch at Barnett Gorge via a narrow and bumpy track.

Manning Gorge is just behind Mt Barnett Roadhouse.  You have to cross a creek by small boat and rope pulleys to get to the track.

Tuesday night was a quiet one spent playing with the watercolours.

On Wednesday morning, I parked a chair down near the creek and had fun with the pencils on this rock face.

Manning Gorge camp site