So I’ll be honest I was not super impressed with Broome. I mean it’s a nice seaside town but I am not entirely sure why people rave about it. But it was nice to be back off the red dirt and have a shower, wear clean clothes, the usual dreams! And probably a good thing we stopped as we have managed to break another shocker on the van, pretty sure there must have been something wrong with it. 500kms should not have done that kind of damage. But Jayco popped one in the post and sent it winging our way.
I have also seen the light when it comes to caravan parks. We headed to the pool on the second day and on the side there are a line of 5 little girls around Abi’s age practising their dives and jumps in the pool. Abi floats just out of reach watching them with such longing. So I sidle over and say ‘Hey do you want to join them?’. She refuses to go over but won’t let me take her over – apparently it would be too embarrassing. I give her a second, and then physically drag her over and dump her in front of them. “Hey girls, this is my daughter Abi, can she play with you.” And that was pretty much the last I saw of her for the entire week. It was amazing! 7:30am she is out the door, comes back for meals but spends all her time with a gaggle of different girls. Utter bliss. Made even better when the boys back a friend and discovered there is a group of kids selling toys at the playground. Zachary leaves carrying a load of toys and returns with even more! But it was a surprising child free time.
While in Broome we had to do a camel ride and watch a sunset. Can’t really come here and not do it. We picked up a half an hour pre sunset ride which was perfect, I was just getting slightly bored when we got back so great timing. Jamie then spent the rest of the evening googling Broome Camel Wars and occasionally giggling and reading me bits. An eye opening to the crazy world of opposing camel companies. We also took in the Thursday night markets, highlight for the kids as they got to play in giant balls and smash into each other. Best $15, we ran out their energy with no effort required!
We replaced our van shocker, made some plans and hit the road for Karijini National Park. Half way between Broome and there our fuel warning light came on. We scanned the instruction manual and read – “you must get to a Toyota dealership as soon as possible.” Great thanks, we are hundreds of Kms from anyone and it’s Saturday afternoon. And then I stumble over lots of bits of advice with everyone saying, well of course we always travel with a spare fuel filter, doesn’t everyone? No, everyone does not. How am I meant to know that, that information should come with the car! Here’s your Toyota, your manual and a spare fuel filter cause it’s one of those things you should always have. So we batten down the hatches and start travelling towards Port Hedland. On the way I am desperately trying to find how far we can travel with that light on, and alternating between outright fear we are going to explode the motor and zen like calm. Turns out 300kms is doable. Even better we called up Repco and even though they were closing at 3pm (we were arriving at 6pm) the manager waited for us. Amazing service. So now we have a fuel filter, hurrah.
We sail into Karijini NP and camp up at Dales Campground. Jamie is displeased with me as there are no showers and red dirt everywhere. The ranger handed us the usual handy leaflets and gave the kids 3 booklets to fill out, which if they return all done they will get little ranger badges that yours truly will sew onto clothes or a school bag. Their eyes light up and I get a full hour of freedom as they colour, and do crosswords and answer questions. Zachary is a little young so in the section where you have to draw examples of kids recycling, and someone sticking to the path I tell him to draw animals from the park or ones he wanted to see. So he draws some snakes, a kangaroo and a rhino because really it’s not an Australian National Park without a couple of rhinos.
But back to the lovely Karijini. We hit Dales gorge on the first day and clambered down to Fortescue Falls and took a dip. Zachary was so sad he hadn’t brought a net as there were loads of little fishes darting around the ladder, nibbling toes in the water. He took a quick dip and spent the rest of the time watching the fish. We swam to the waterfall – much warmer than the water – before heading further down the track, occasionally jumping into the water that was getting slowly colder! We also found a butterfly bush – covered in cocoons and butterflies. We finished at Circular Pools, I only watched after a Canadian couple told me it was like water at home! The kids enjoyed the dip and after lunch we rambled back over the top of the gorge for home.
The next day we drove out to the other side of the park were there is a collection of gorges. My legs and shoulders were a bit sore after yesterday, maybe something to do with so many steps but also having to actually climb along ledges to get into places. We chose Handcock Gorge, it has a spider walk! How could we not?
Karijini was an amazing National Park for kids. It’s not just a walk through a gorge, it’s like an obstacle course. We had to climb along gorge walls, waded through water pools and dipped into the coldest pool I have ever been. The kids loved it, and despite my fear of crashing into the water and killing my camera it was a blast. We ended up in Kermits Pool for an hour with no one else around. I braved the water once, while the kids did bombs off the walls.
You can see the gorge continues on into a further series of pools which look lovely but the threat of hypothermia or sudden heart attacks means they are roped off. We ran into a ranger on the way back, they come down a few times a day to make sure no one is messing about or have gotten themselves into trouble. He helped the kids over some sections and then mountain goated his way back up the gorge. We finished up for the day and missed out on the handrail pool, we were all a bit knackered and the kids were desperate to finish their packs and get their ranger badges!
We took a pit stop at a free camp outside of Karratha. It had a nearby river complete with rope swing and pet duck. It was free day of fun. We ducked into Dampier to see the Red Dog statue and attempt the staircase to the moon – complete fail with low level clouds. So now we are packing up and heading for Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef, hopefully to see some whales and make use of the snorkelling gear we have been lugging all the way from Port Fairy!