This trip was always going to be about the destination, not the journey.
My older brother turned 60 at the start of February and the party was in Broome. Whilst it would have been cheaper and much quicker to fly up and back, I wanted to take Rhonda (my bus) for a decent test run. In the past 18 months I have only taken weekend runs in Rhonda so this was to be the first decent trip.
This was never going to be a sightseeing trip. My aim was to get to Broome in reasonably quick time so as to maximise the time I would be able to spend with my brother and the rest of the family and relatives that would be making his birthday. Cousins were flying in from Victoria.
Plodding along at 80/85km per hour meant it would take me a while to get there.
I had to work on the Tuesday morning so left Collie just after 1pm. Uneventful and the first overnight stop was Bindoon Hill where I arrived around 5.30pm. Now this is not an ideal stop but I was grateful for the facility nonetheless. Because of the amount of trucks that stop here I got well off the bitumen and well out of anyone’s way. Trucks continued to pull in and out at an alarming rate and being a warm night it was difficult to get to sleep. The trucks that didn’t pull in changed gears as they reached the peak of the hill so noise was a constant all night long. Exhausted I fell asleep and was surprised that I didn’t wake until 5am.
The next 2 days were very long, tiring and extremely hot. I stayed at 25 Mile Well and De Grey River. I was the only camper at De Grey River and was enjoying my own little happy hour when a carload of young guys roared in and headed to the river. Next minute a shirtless young man of foreign extraction came over and asked if there were any crocodiles in the river. I said no, not down this far. They had travelled down from Broome where they had swum at Cable Beach so he was a little alarmed when I told him they were not uncommon at Cable Beach. As he wandered back to his mates to let them know they could swim in the De Grey I hoped that my information was correct. All good because they roared out again 30 minutes later.
Above – De Grey River Rest Stop. Plenty of parking area. I imagine it gets quite busy at “nomads migrating north” time in May/June.
Crossing the Roebuck Plains on my way north. This unnerved me a bit as was my first experience driving through water. I had little to worry about as worse was to come on my return trip!
Arrived at 12 Mile early Friday afternoon and settled in to “Broome Time”. Nice and relaxed. The heavens opened up on the Monday and with high winds we copped 420mm of rain in 24 hours. Amazing to consider that that is half of Perth’s rainfall for the whole year and we copped it in 24 hours. I was surprised when I was told that Broome annual rainfall is only 600mm, but of course it falls in really over only about 3 months.
The next day was spent cleaning up at my brother’s 12 Mile Bird Park during which time I lost my glasses.
Over the following week had a great time catching up with family and the party on the Saturday Night was a perfect night with clear skies, great band, good food and excellent company of family an friends.
Sunday we headed back to Roebuck Plains (about 20km from 12 Mile) to see “the flood”. There were people everywhere doing the same thing. Kids with boogie boards, couples on kayaks. People set up sunshades and awnings and it was a real carnival atmosphere. Trucks and high clearance 4Wd’s were allowed through.
I was planning on leaving Monday morning but that wasn’t possible. An enterprising young local mechanic was offering lifts across the flooded plains for $100 per car on his tilt tray. I rang him after lunch and decided that if I could get out of town now then that was the best option as more rain was forecast for later in the week.
Due to the fact that Rhonda’s rear is pretty low (anyone else have that problem haha) he couldn’t get it up onto the tilt tray. I have a snorkel and after he inspected my coaster he assured me I should be fine.
This was what confronted me. You can just see the white line. There was no danger of getting swept away but after stalling it a couple of times on the first crossing and then at least 20 times on the second crossing I was getting very nervous. I rang him and he came and towed me through the 3rd (deepest) and 4th crossings. He only wanted $50 but I gave him $100 as I was most grateful and really would have paid anything to get to dry land. It was an experience that I don’t wish to repeat again.
Further down there was more water just north of Sandfire but nothing to worry about. Further south about 100/150km north of Meekatharra there were many floodways’ to negotiate. Again, nothing to compare to the Roebuck Plains.
The stops on the way home were Stanley Rest Area (Toilets and dump), a rest area just south of Kuramina which had a lot parking area and again I was the sole occupant. The next night I stopped opposite the Pithara Tavern. This is an awesome little pub. Only about 5 people in the bar all night but had so much fun. Publican Caroline is such a lovely lady and with her sidekick Tessa we laughed the night away. Great Parmy too. I asked for a small one (as I know some country pubs give really big serves that you cant possibly eat). This one was obviously made with love!
As I needed to get some new specs I was headed straight to Bunbury along the Forrest Highway when I got a front passenger side blowout. A call to Ken Tame Insurance and an hour later the towie turned up. With a lot of physical effort he managed to get the wheel nuts off and spare tire on. Big shout out to Ken Tame Insurance and Keith from Mandurah Towing for getting me back on the road in just under 2 hours.
I stopped at the next spot past Pinjarra turnoff which is right beside the highway yet I probable had the best nights sleep of the whole trip. Go figure!
A morning in Bunbury and I had had my eye test and glasses ordered (thanks to Zoe at Specsavers for fitting me in) and also called into Sound Wave to get a new radio unit. The one that was in the bus had stopped working a couple of month ago and I hadn’t got around to replacing it. So I drove all the way to Broome and back without radio or any music. Even I got sick of my own singing!
17 Days. 4930 kilometres. 809 litres in fuel. $1,168.91 spent on fuel. Most paid for fuel 156.9 at Roebuck Plains Roadhouse. Most I saw fuel price at was 169.9 at Auski Village and 169.3 at Sandfire Roadhouse. Least I paid for fuel was 131.9 at Settlers Roadhouse in Myalup (with 4 cent RAC member discount). Average price I paid was 144.8cpl
The experience? Priceless
Now I have a real dilemma. I was planning on going full time in 2 years time. Now I don’t think I can wait that long!