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Perth to Broome - Part 1

Pouring rain greeted us in the early hours of the morning and for a while there was some doubt that we would be leaving. Thankfully it cleared up in record time and although it was mid-morning by the time we got going, at least we were moving but as it turned out, not very far.

As soon as we drove down the road there was an odd noise coming from the front of the vehicle. At first I thought it was the power steering belt but after checking the fluid levels, it was obvious that the fluid level was down.

A quick trip to the local 'car-stuff' shop and we returned with some steering fluid with a stop-leak component. The sound went away and so we were off!

We had nothing in particular to check out on the way so it was just a long slow haul up through the hills with a lunch break at Bindoon.

There is a caravan facility in Bindoon by the oval and it is also possible to stop overnight at the rest area at the top of Bindoon Hill. There is a better place to stop just around the corner of Dewars Poor Road opposite the entrance of the Agricultural College.

 

Bindoon
Bindoon

 

We kept on going with a quick toilet break at New Norcia and by the time we reached Pithara it was time to find a campsite. For those who haven't been there before, New Norcia rates far more than just a quick break. There is a lot to see in the monastic town and we would advise staying overnight to ensure you have time to really have a good look. You can even join one of the guided tours.

 

New Norcia
New Norcia

 

There are some tracks on the far side of the railway at Pithara so we found a quiet spot in the bush and settled in for a cold night.

In the morning we had a look around the town but sadly this is another small town suffering the effects of gradual decline.

The shops were empty and the main street was deserted apart from traffic that was just passing through.

 

Pithara
Pithara

 

We stopped not far north at Dalwallinu and took some photos. As we had found a useful spot to spend the night we bought some meat from the local butcher. We try to do this as often as we can. If we save money on accommodation we like to spend a few dollars in the nearest town. A lot of travellers do this as a way to boost the local econnomy a bit in return for free or cheap campsites. The spot we spent the night wasn't an official campsite but it was good enough for us.

The rest of the day was just drive, drive, drive.

 

Dalwallinu
Dalwallinu

 

We stopped for the night at Kirkalocka rest area. This is a good place to overnight as it has toilets, seats, tables, shelters and dump points.

It is possible to get a bit further from the road and it is an all-weather site with a blue-metal base instead of the usual compacted red earth that turns to a messy mush when it rains.

 

Kirkalocka rest area
Kirkalocka rest area

 

The next day was tough driving as we were fighting a strong headwind all day long. The Coaster struggles to do 80kph when the wind is against it.

We re-fuelled at Mount Magnet and dropped in to have a look at The Granites just north of town.

There used to be 'NO CAMPING' signs here but we didn't notice any and it looked like it would make a good overnight spot but it was too early in the day, so we took some pictures and moved on.

 

The Granites
The Granites

 

The next stop was at Day Dawn. I wanted to have a look at the Great Fingal mine office as I hadn't seen it since about 1995.

This wonderful old building was in great shape the last time I saw it but now the area around it has been fenced off and the building is deteriorating badly. Most of the rear of the roof has collapsed and the interior of the building is suffering.

Big barbed wire fences surround the building that you could once walk round. If you look for the gap in the fence it is still possible to go inside and have a look.

It is a real shame that this beautiful building is being left to rot. As usual, making money is far more important than preserving our history.

 

Great Fingal mine office
Great Fingal mine office

 

I have been meaning to stop and photograph the old Cue hospital ruins for a long time and this trip I finally got round to seeing it.

This is a perfect example of a large, historically important building that is now little more than a pile of stones. It is sad to think that many wonderful old buildings will end up like this as nobody with the power to save them, seems to give a damn about them.

 


 

Next day we pressed on to Meekatharra and located Peace Gorge (north off Gascoyne Junction Road). This is very close to town but a perfect overnight spot. There isn't much in the way of facilities but there was a bin, seats, table and a fire pit with BBQ plate and billy hook.

We were far enough north now to really start to feel the change in the countryside and it was a beautiful quiet spot to spend the night.

 

Peace Gorge
Peace Gorge

 

We woke to an overcast sky and drizzly rain that was to continue for the rest of the day and as it turned out, the rest of the week!

We tried to fuel up at the 24 hour petrol station in Meekatharra but 'new fangled' technology wasn't in the mood to work so we had to pay substantially more at a station up the road. At least we were able to fill our tanks with water at the 24 hour station.

With nothing to interest us along the way we decided to stop early at South Branch rest area. This is one of the best stops on this route and has toilets, several shelters with seats and tables, dump points and bins.

We explored further along the track from the main area and found a lovely campsite away from all the 'sheeple' who gather together in groups so tight you would think they are in a caravan park.

The rain finally stopped mid-afternoon but it would be back...

A big bonus at the rest area is internet signal so we were very happy in our nice secluded campsite.

 

South Branch rest area
South Branch rest area

 

The next stop for fuel was Kumarina roadhouse. The station has now converted to 24 hour fuel and you have to pre-pay at an outside kiosk as with other 24 hours sites.

The only problem was that the dills who run the place have failed to sign-post the diesel pumps and people had no idea that they had to pre-pay for their fuel.

There is also the old 'pay here' sign outside the shop that nobody has bothereed to remove. I really wonder at the mentality of some business operators these days...

The good news was that Kumarina is no longer the most expensive fuel stop between Perth and Newman. That is now jointly held by Paynes Find and Meekatharra.

 

Kumarina
Kumarina

 

We stopped at Newman to re-fuel, have lunch and stock up on some supplies from Woolies.

I have never really been a fan of this town as it is just like a suburb of Perth dumped in a remote location.

To be fair, there are some nice green spaces and parks but the town just lacks character.

It caters well enough for its residents but for me, a country town without that 'country feel' just isn't right.

 

Newman
Newman

 

We spent the night at Mt. Robinson and although we thought we may have driven out of the rain, in the night it turned up again. There were plenty of unhappy campers under canvas in the morning and we were very thankful for the comfort of our Coaster.

The rest area was packed with vans, motorhomes and campers. It got worse at the night wore on and there seems to be a dire need for more good rest areas on this section of road.

This is a particularly nice rest area with views of The Governor, an impressive hill over the road and Mt. Robinson as a back-drop to the rest area.

There are shelters, seats, tables, toilets and a dump point as well as bins. There is also internet signal.

As our next stop was to be Karijini, we decided to wait at Mt. Robinson until the weather cleared. There was no point in going to the National Park and paying fees but not being able to get the photographs we wanted. We have signal for the internet here so we are happy enough to sit for a night or two.

The bad news, when we checked the weather forecast, was that the rain wasn't due to clear for several days....

 

Mount Robinson
Mount Robinson rest area

 

End Of Part 1 See Part 2

 

Updated July 2016

Go to the next blog installment Go to the next blog installment

 

 

PLACES TO SEE
in travel order

 

Bindoon
New Norcia
Dalwallinu
Paynes Find
Mount Magnet
Cue
Meekatharra
Kumarina
Newman
Karijini

 

MORE PICTURES

 

Old Cue Hispital Ruins

Great Fingal mine office ruins

Pithara

Cue

Mount Magnet

 

 

 

 

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