The Great Budget 4wd Trip Around Australia – Week 13

the-kimberley

Woo hoo, this week we finally made it to Western Australia!

It’s been a seriously long way from our old home in Noosa, Queensland, but definitely well worth the drive!

Distance Travelled:
676km

Spot of the Week:
Goorrandalng Campground, Keep River National Park, NT

Camp of the Week:
Discovery Park – Lake Kununurra

The lake by this caravan park pretty much runs east to west, so you get to enjoy sunrise and sunset over the water from your tent, which is truly beautiful.

This was by far our favourite caravan park yet. It was huge, yet it felt like we were there on our own … just what we like! The staff were super friendly and the amenities terrific.

For more details, read our review of Discovery Park – Lake Kununurra.

Tip of the Week:
Dental Floss is the new king for repair jobs!

Stronger than cotton thread and waterproof, good old dental floss has saved us a few times in the last week. From fixing a hanging storage bag to (believe it or not) saving a camp chair from complete destruction.

HAHAHA!!!


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Disaster of the Week:
A backpack full of wet clothes was what we discovered on the roof when we stopped in Kununurra. Not fun when you find it the afternoon before you are leaving 🙁

The Budget ($ AUD):
Fuel – $157
Groceries – $210
Camping Fees – $35.50
Hardware / Car – $199 (Projecta Battery Charger)
Laundry -$16
WA National Park Permit – $88
Entertainment- $9.50
Total – $715.57

Without the battery charger, we would have been under budget (aren’t we always saying something like that?!)

Day 1 – Keep River National Park, NT

Ginger Hill's Walk {Big World Small Pockets}

After a relatively short drive from Judbarra / Gregory National Park, we arrived at Keep River National Park, just 3km from the Western Australia border.

After exploring the lovely Cockatoo Lagoon, informative Visitor Centre and Ginger’s Hill Walk, we pulled up at Goorrandalng Campground our home for the next 2 nights.

Everything was pretty normal as we set up camp and had dinner. The sun went down and the flies went to bed, and then madness! 30 mins after dark, we were swarmed by a storm of beetles! Literally thousands of the things! As with most bugs, these guys loved the light … so off with all the lights.

We had to set up a decoy head torch on the bonnet, just so we could open the back door of the car to get out a toothbrush and, even then, we were all covered in hundreds of bugs in seconds. Needless to say, it was straight to the safety of the tent!

Day 2 – Keep River National Park, NT

keep-river-np

We woke early, before the heat of the day crept in, to set off on a stunning dawn walk.

Wow, what a beautiful place!

Keep River National Park is definitely a hidden gem in the Territory and the stunning Kimberley scenery we enjoyed looked incredible with the dawn light bouncing off it.

A highly recommended spot!

Day 3 – Kununurra, WA

lake-argyle

Woo hoo, we made it, finally into Western Australia!

As we discovered however, these guys take their border crossings very seriously. All vehicles are inspected to ensure you are not carrying any prohibited items such as nuts, fruit and honey, just to name a few.

They checked in our fridge, our slide-out drawers and in any container that looked like it could carry prohibited items. They weren’t too keen to climb on the roof to check a storage box however, so happily accepted our truthful explanation that the box only held tools.

Ditto the dirty laundry bag!

After that rigorous ordeal, we headed for our first WA destination, Lake Argyle.

What a beautiful place! The lake is enormous (the largest manmade lake in Australia I believe) and a great place for a refreshing swim.

Next, we were on to the town of Kununurra to stock up on some much-needed, post-border crossing supplies – largely honey! – and then made our way to our favourite caravan park so far – Lake Kununurra – Discovery Parks.

Set right at the lake edge, we loved this spot for its awesome views, reasonable price tag, ample site space and friendly campers.

sunset

Day 4 – Kununurra, WA

One of the essential road trip gadgets we have in our Landy is a multimeter, which the boy uses regularly to check the car batteries.

Today was one of those days and luckily, we quickly discovered our battery charger wasn’t working properly.

After borrowing another charger from our friendly neighbour to check to see what exactly was wrong, we knew we were in for some more spending 🙁

Read More: The 10 Best Free Things to Do in Kununurra

Day 5 – Kununurra, WA

battery-charger

Before it got too hot, the boy was off for a walk into town to buy a new battery charger. Thankfully it didn’t take long and the battery situation was under control again.

However, after rearranging the back of the car and checking our equipment on the roof rack, we discovered another issue for the day!

We had stored a backpack of clothes we were not using, on the roof, wrapped up in a tarp.

Turns out, the tarp wasn’t ideal at keeping the rain out! Yep, a full backpack of wet and mouldy-smelling clothes. YUM!

Time for some more laundry! Luckily in 40 plus degree temps, the washing dries in a flash.

Day 6 – Marta’s Outlook, WA

karunjie-track

We were sad to leave our wonderful home at Discovery Park – Lake Kununurra, but it was time to go and check out the town of Wyndham and the surrounding areas.

Wyndham was not much, however the nearby Five Rivers Lookout, although stifling hot, was amazing – providing incredible views across the mud flats to the Cambridge Gulf.

After that, it was time for our most hair-raising ride so far!

The Old Karunjie Track from Wyndham, through the back of El Questro Station to Home Valley Station, was so hard to see that, at times, even the trusty GPS couldn’t tell where we were. What fun!

With no other map, no sand tracks, no winch and no real idea where we were, we just followed the faint tyre tracks and hoped for the best!

It took us 3 hours to complete this 50km stock route, but was well worth it in the end! Not least for the incredible views of the Cockburn Range, which provided the most stunning backdrop.

cockburn-ranges

The track was nearly invisible at some points, with other tracks criss-crossing it and, of course, there were no signs! When we finally made it to where the GPS thought the river crossing was we, well, we wish we had a boat! The river was way too deep for any 4wd and we feared having to make the 3 hour journey back from where we came!

Luckily however, we spotted another vehicle (the first in several hours) across on the other side of the bank and drove towards it along another well-worn track that ran by the river for 10 minutes. Finally, we came out on the Gibb River Rd at the Pentecost River Crossing where the water was low enough to get over! What a relief to be in the right place after a grueling, scorching day.

We didn’t stay at Home Valley Station, but we did go in for a look and a cold drink. It’s the first time we have seen green grass at a campground in weeks, maybe even months! This place was amazing with its huge campground, a large rustic restaurant / bar and a very inviting pool.

Being budget travellers, we thought the $71 for an unpowered campsite was a bit much for us, so we pushed on and camped at Marta’s Lookout, a free viewing point on the side of the Gibb River Road not far away.

Magnificent spot, we couldn’t have been happier, plus we ran into 2 other lovely couples that we had met in Kununurra too!

Day 7 – Cockburn Rest Area, WA

zebedee-springs

One place the boy has always wanted to go to is El Questro – an old station turned Wilderness Park out in the remote Kimberley region. So, as a treat, we had planned to stay there for 2 nights.

We were pretty excited to be going somewhere with such a big reputation and certainly our stop at the delightful Zebedee Thermal Springs on the road in, was beautiful. Only a short walk from the car park and we were greeted with several pools amidst tropical plants and a stream flowing through with crystal-clear warm water – it was heavenly!

However, to say we were underwhelmed upon arrival at the El Questro Station/ Campground, was an understatement. The boy was so disappointed with what he saw, as well as the $96 price tag for 3 of us for 1 night of unpowered camping, that it was enough to change our plans!

$96! I know it is seriously remote and the cost to get anything there is astronomical, however that was way out of our budget.

home-valley

In our opinion, Home Valley Station was much nicer and we’d definitely recommend staying there instead if you are looking for a great Outback Kimberley experience.

After leaving El Questro, a little downhearted, our spirits soon lifted when we saw the road ahead! Ahhhhh, at last, a smooth bitumen road again. You can only take so much dust and bumps! Off to find our free camp for the night …

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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