Onto Geraldton

Well things started out a lot different this morning. Filled up with cheap fuel at the servo ($1.50 compared to $1.58 at the IGA) and hit the frog and toad. Motorhome behaved itself perfectly (even if I wasn’t game to use cruise control until after lunch). We drove close to 400 kms without a hitch including the last 100 kms on cruise control … until we hit the outskirts of Geraldton and the whole issue returned. I’ve been checking the rear wheel hubs to make sure its not a rear wheel bearing causing the problem but both hubs are within a couple of degrees of each other so no apparent problem there.

Arrowsmith Freecamp

I’m beginning to suspect that when the wheel sensor lead was damaged that it may have also caused damage to the rear CAN-BUS which will mean a replacement is required. We decided that our best course of action is to just drive shorter days and make our way home. The only issue is that it prevents the use of the cruise control so its back to the old days of having to keep the pedal to the metal.

In any case we pushed on to Arrowsmith Freecamp (in the traditional lands of the Amangu people) which meant we had travelled about 540 kms for the day. It was very windy, so after dinner we retreated to the motorhome for drinks and reading the days news.

Sunsetting on the dump point, Arrowsmith Freecamp

Saturday Night At The Pub

No movies in this little town. Dinner at the pub will have to do, not that there is a great selection. I reckon the menu hasn’t changed since we first visited in 2016. Guess its the Garlic Cob Bread followed by flathead tails.

Flathead tails for two, please

I climbed under the motorhome and checked out what was going on with the sensors and found that the LH Rear wheel sensor cable had been cabled tied to the other sensor leads. I removed the offending cable ties and returned the LH lead to its correct position within the holder, so we will wait and see what happens tomorrow. From my research it appears to be a rather hit and miss affair to find the real problem. With that in mind, I’m reluctant to try the workshop in Geraldton because they aren’t an actual MB dealer and it could mean a wait of 5 days for a part to only then discover its not the solution to the problem, then subsequent delays until its figured out.

Windy Denham foreshore at dusk.

The Blue Dolphin Beckons

Off we go again. This time it was noticeable the number of caravans out on the road. I guess Friday brings them all out of the woodwork. A straight forward run today from Minilya Rest Area to Denham a total of 456 kms. We will stay here 2 nights for a bit of rest and relaxation before we make our way down to Geraldton where hopefully they can check out the vehicle and see if we can get it fixed within a reasonable timeframe. I would rather drive across the Nullarbor with cruise control if I can.

The view out the living room window

A bit more wildlife about this afternoon once we got out onto the Peron Peninsula even having to give way to a couple of emus. Heaps of roadworks after the recent heavy rains. The wildflowers are starting to show through now with predominantly purple flowers and the odd desert pea. We will try to see more of them this time when we head further south. No photos yet!

Onto Minilya River Freecamp

Sunset at Robe River

As we left Robe River Freecamp, Ally rang for a chat so we were able to catch up on some news. We headed south for a short journey today, planning a longer one tomorrow.

Not so much a social butterfly at Minilya, as a Goth Moth

The motorhome is playing up again and, combined with the strong wind, no cruise control makes for a not so pleasant driving experience. The faulty sensor sends incorrect/out of range readings which means the electronic transmission tries to set a non-existent ratio. The result is wildly fluctuating engine revs and no power to the wheels meaning I have to pull to the side of the road and stop, then start off again. Once it has done it once there is no longer a problem but until it happens we are very wary of having Road Trains sitting behind us.

Not as pretty as Robe River but you get what you pay for.

Still heaps of caravans around, Nunturra Roadhouse had us queueing for fuel at $1.82 a litre but no shortage of customers. We had lunch at another river Freecamp before moving onto here (Minilya River Freecamp) just over the bridge from the Minilya Roadhouse with fuel at a more reasonable $1.58

An Easy Day in the Saddle

After our long day yesterday we awoke to very strong winds whipping up the dust this morning. I cooked breakfast as usual (the standard porridge followed by an espresso coffee using my robot coffee maker) before we did a bit of housekeeping to remove red dust inside and out of the vehicle and cleaned the windscreen.

Morning tea at the park in Dampier

We didn’t leave camp until 9 a.m. which meant we were about the last to leave (except the Spanish speaking couple who obviously see no need to get to their next camp before dark) and we once again battled the misbehaving vehicle and extremely strong, blustery winds which were blowing us off course as we headed toward Karratha and Dampier. We decided on morning tea at Dampier before moving on southward.

Nothing to see here, move on.

We stopped for lunch on the side of the road, which, coincidently, was the entrance to Sino Iron’s Aerodrome – the Chinese owned airfield that just happens to be in the vicinity of some of Australia’s most important military sites ( Curtin Airforce Base, Exmouth Naval Communications Base, Jindalee over the horizon radar installation) – I’m sure that’s just as coincidental as our stopping there.

Robe River Camp in the hot afternoon sun

The vehicle was really playing up today and a check of the error codes revealed that the RHS Rear Wheel CAN/BUS has a possible mechanical defect. At the moment it’s still driveable but if it gets any worse it may be coming home on the Turtle Express (cheap shot).In any case we made it to the Robe River Rest Area in time for scones and tea (actually a Cherry Ripe and a can of soft drink). We have a perfect view of the outback sky so we will see what the night brings.

Onto Port Hedland and Further South.

We continued our trip southward towards Port Hedland. The wind has really come up today and with it the return of the vehicle playing up. No cruise control for most of the day and battling strong headwinds (literally). We only needed to buy some ground coffee (only indeed) at Woolies, it was a different story here for the most part. Still busy but nowhere near as bad as Broome. We continued on and after a rather long day (542kms) arrived at the Peawah River Rest Area and set up camp.

We had the misfortune of having a couple of elderly rednecks imposing themselves on our neighbours so I took the opportunity to play some of my favourite music (not to loud mind you) by Geoffrey Gurrimul as my form of quiet protest.

Sunset at the Peawah River Camp

It takes all types – a young Spanish speaking couple arrived well after dark and decided that camping right behind us and lighting a campfire next to our motorhome was a good plan. I quietly advised them to make sure that the fire was properly extinguished before they go to bed – I’m starting to feel a bit grey gonadish myself now, must check the medication.

While You’re in the Neighbourhood

Well we were going past in any case so we thought we would call into Broome to renew acquaintances – not our brightest move. We had planned to do a shop at Woolies and check out the local camping shop. Woolies car park was packed out with the overflow of caravans and motorhomes in the paddock nest to the shopping complex. Inside there was a long queue for the Telstra Shop (apparently they had phones on special), the cafe was at capacity and there were long queues inside Woolies to get to the checkouts. Even the pharmacy had a queue for service.

A balmy outback evening

We bought lunch at the shopping centre then drove into Broome proper for a look around. No stopping, the streets were overflowing with tourists so we thought we would head out to the ever reliable Roebuck Plains Roadhouse and grab an unpowered site for the night – nah, completely booked out so we headed another 120kms down the road and stayed at Nullibucca South (also called Goldwire Rest Area) the traditional lands of the Karajarri people.

Not a Lot at Derby

The caravan park may be full but the town of Derby has that dying feel about it. The camping shop is shut and most of the little shops are either closed up for good or because it’s Sunday. The IGA had very limited stock in it, probably because the Woolies back out the road a bit is taking all its customers. The locals made themselves known last night trying to sell their carved Boab nuts. They even got a bit antsy when we said no. In fact, one of them was the same bloke we had bought a Boab nut off in 2014, our first time here, but now he’s charging $100. We spent the day catching up on the news (the internet is painfully slow here), watering the van, doing washing, showering and feeding our faces.

We’re still plotting our course of action as we head south. Stick to the coast and cope with the travelling hoards or take the less travelled route inland. We may end up doing a bit of each. The caravan park here is full tonight – that’s over three hundred sites – so you can imagine the traffic when they all decide to leave at the same time. The Horizontal Falls Tour is still very popular – they now have an overnighter that departs at around 2 p.m. and returns about 9 a.m. Our neighbours in the park are off on that one tonight. Tomorrow we plan to visit the local Home Hardware store before heading the short distance down the road to the Roebuck Plains Roadhouse and stay there the night before checking out Broome for a cuppa and quick grocery and camping goods shop (what else is there to shop for?). We’ll be moving further down the road from there to places as yet undecided.

Off to See Derby and Joan

We left Mary’s Pool Freecamp just after 8 and dawdled our way down the Great Northern Highway. The wind was quite strong but fortunately was behind us so we got sensational fuel economy down to Fitzroy Crossing. Mind you we needed to with fuel at $1.78 litre – cost us $150 for the run from Kununurra.

Wide load ahead.

Back on the road for lunch, only interrupted by the wide load coming through from one of the mines. The vehicle is now behaving itself – no problems all day and we did over 420 kms today. So far we’ve done almost seven thousand kilometres and probably have the same amount to go.

We had pre-booked our site at the Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park at Derby and we thought we would check out the Fish and Chip shop on the wharf but its closed for renovations. Bit of bad luck as we had recommended it to some fellow travellers only yesterday. (Oops there goes the Tour Leader job). Not to be put off we are heading up the street to get takeaways from the Fish and Chip shop near the caravan park. Then I guess for something different it will be chocolate and old Tawny for dessert.

Onto Mary’s Pool

We made our way the 120kms to Halls Creek intending to refuel and do a quick top up shop but the fuel road train was ensconced at the Shell servo with a queue of about thirty cars and caravans waiting to fuel up with only one set of diesel bowsers working. We had morning tea and did our little shop and still no progress at the servo (if anything the queue had grown larger) so we decided to move on. We’ll refuel at Fitzroy Crossing (the advantages of good fuel economy and a 100 litre tank). It’s been a feature these holidays – not many people out on the roads but the towns seem to be swamped with cars and caravans, many appear to be on their first trip out, all bright and shiny (the cars and caravans are as well)

The redundant causeway at Mary’s Pool

The best laid plans etcetera etcetera… we had planned to stay at the Ngumban Cliff Rest Area which gives views out over the plains, but strong winds and the ever fresh memories of Hell at Horricks Pass in 2019 saw us forego those plans and head to the ever reliable Mary’s Pool Freecamp. We did the grey gonad stunt of pulling up at lunchtime and sitting back enjoying lunch and a cuppa while criticising everyone that comes into camp (only joking!)

The weather cooled off nicely towards dark (which comes just after 5 p.m. now) We even had to put our jackets on to watch the stars as more and more caravans arrived. In the end it was a pretty full house and we ended up hitting the sack early – its been a long day.