Starting off as a seed of an idea to take 12 months out to travel around Australia, various factors limited us to firming up on a three-month road trip to the Kimberley and the West Coast. With that timeline set, we started planning our itinerary at the beginning of the year. This turned out to be a rather more challenging process than we first thought.
Note: this post was first published on 31 May
Having completed my five-week road trip to the Kimberley in 2017, we had the confidence that a round trip down the WA west coast and back across the Nullarbor was quite feasible. Learning from our trip 2020 to Tasmania, we set out to plan the itinerary round a minimum of three nights in the key locations we wanted to visit. In doing so, we appreciated that we would have to cover some long distances in single days, such are the distances in Australia.
The key locations we were planning to visit included: the Bungle bungles; Mitchell Plateau; Windjana Gorge; Broome: Karijini National Park; Coral Bay and Shark Bay. We then started to consider campgrounds.
One of the normal characteristics of road trip round Australia is flexibility: being able to stop somewhere and linger if it appeals or move on if it doesn’t. We very quickly discovered that our ability to do this would be severely limited.
It seems that the Australian travelling public have taken the Governments advice to heart and are holidaying at home. The result of this is that we were struggling to find vacancies in some of the areas we planned to visit, with some campgrounds booked solid through to the end of September!
After some significant effort, we managed to book the key locations and quite a number in between. However, in a couple of cases, such as Dales Campground in Karijini, we have to move sites within the campground during our five day stay.
The other factors that we had to take into account when planning our itinerary were:
Distances between fuel stops – this is most relevant during the journey between home and Broome which takes us along the Oodnadatta Track, the Tanami Track and the Gibb River Road. As an example, although there is fuel to be had along the Tanami, with significant distances between, it is rather expensive. The Landcruiser tanks hold just under 150 litres and with 2 x 20 litre jerry cans, we will be well covered.
Internet access – both K and I will require internet access around specific dates, so we had to check mobile phone coverage maps to check availability. Fortunately, between us we have both Optus and Telstra.
Laundry facilities – We will have to wash clothes during the 12 weeks, so booking into the occasional campground with laundry facilities was essential.
Toilet facilities – since most of the campgrounds we booked have toilet facilities (although some only have basic drop toilets) we decided not to carry our portable toilet. That said for the odd overnight bush camp, we are carrying a shovel!
Campfires – it does get very cold at night until we get to the Kimberley, so the ability to light campfires along the way is very welcome. These will not only keep us warm, but will give us a chance to use our recently purchased camp oven.
Taking all this into account and in an attempt to minimise any last minute stress, we finalised the details about three weeks before our date for leaving.
Our departure date was set for Saturday 5 June. This was decided upon because of work commitments before and after. I had a couple of assignments to complete during the days prior and I have one week’s work lined up for the second week in September.
And then the latest (fourth) Victorian Covid 19 lockdown happened!
With our plans thwarted, we have prepared a few contingencies (more about those in the next post). As things currently stand, we don’t know when we will get away. Our eventual departure date is dependent on so many variables: when the lockdown finishes; when and which borders are opened to us; if other states start to have cases.
We could be away as early as Friday of this week (4th June) or it could be another two weeks, or even longer.
In the meantime, we are balancing being ready to leave within 24 hours with the potential of further delays very much in mind.
However with today’s case number news it is looking more likely that the lockdown will be extended. Logically, with no cases in regional Victoria, the ‘ring of steel’ round Melbourne should be reinstated, but I fear that this will be in the too hard basket for the government.
My intention with these posts is to share the photographs of the trip, but since we are going nowhere at the moment, I am backfilling with shots from my previous road trip, including this one: