Tag Archives: caravanning

Insurance update

We got the call Friday to say the whole insurance claim on the damage to the van AND the boat trailer has been accepted. So while we are away in Bali in January, the local caravan repairer will fix it for us.

It was a $14,000 job, but the new boat trailer is a further $1800. The repair also fixes a nasty dent Russ put in the van when it was a week old. When he did that and we took the van in for it’s first service, the manufacturer offered to fix it. I said we’d wait until he dented it again so we got more value for our excess. This latest dent wasn’t our fault so no excess!

Like they say, it’s an ill wind that blows no good!

Coral Bay

A beautiful sunset

A beautiful sunset

After a great night spent free camping on the banks of the Yannarie river opposite the Barradale Rest Area, Russ and I took the shortish drive to Coral Bay. Once again, we had our free site all to ourselves while across the dry river bed, we estimated there were at least 30 vans and camper trailers etc. all crammed into the spot that is mentioned in the Free Camps Australia book. We lit a fire, ran our generator (for the heater and freezer) until it ran out of fuel around 2 am and generally had a much more private time than they’d have had.

Crystal clear waters of Coral Bay

Crystal clear waters of Coral Bay

I was quite worried this time heading into Coral Bay. Two years ago they finally got the go ahead for a resort development in town. Lots have tried and failed to get approval, but last time we were here, the earth works were started, some of the services had gone in, and they’d set up a sales office with all the flags and bunting associated with something like that.

We’ve come to Coral bay 6 times out of the last 8 winters and keep coming back because we love the feel of the place. The town (and I think it’s a bit of a stretch of the imagination to call it that) has 2 caravan parks, a pub with accommodation, backpackers hostel, a small shopping complex, 2 restaurants attached to the caravan parks and a general store and servo. A number of companies run diving, snorkelling and whale/whale shark viewing tours but even that is limited to thirteen boat licences.

The “town” generates it’s own power, desalinates the water supply and disposes of all our rubbish. The last thing it needed was more accommodation for more people.

So, as I said, I was feeling a bit sick at the thought of it, but got here to find it(the resort development) had failed. Hooray! I’m not sure of the reason, but whatever, it’s good. The only new things I’ve noticed are toilets at the boat ramp, more lighting at the boat ramp, new beach shelters, 33 houses built for seasonal staff accommodation (they currently live in a dreadful ghetto of old donga caravans, makeshift fences and shade cloth-it’s awful and an eyesore). The pub has changed hands and now has happy hour three times a week instead of two, so all the changes I can see are positives.People's Caravan Park Coral Bay

We come to Coral Bay to fish and swim and although it’s been a bit windy, we’ve already had one meal of fish and put two more in the freezer. Because we travelled through such hot temperatures earlier on to get here, we are feeling like the 28c days are not really quite warm enough for swimming-must be getting soft in our old age!. I haven’t even headed to my favourite place-the heated pool here in the park.

We really enjoyed having our friends Steve and Kathy here for a couple of nights. It was great to catch up with them yet again and sad to see them move on because we won’t see them now for around 12 months when we think we might head to QLD for a change of holiday.

I probably won’t blog much here because our days will be filled with fishing and hopefully snorkelling over the coral and I think it all gets a bit blah, blah, blah.

Last night we turned some freshly caught Charlie Court Cod into our dinner. CCC is one of my favourite fish and this meal was amazingly good!

Layered Fish and Potato Pie with Saffron Leeks

  • 450 g potatoes, peeled and cut into 5mm slices
  • 3 tablespoons light margarine
  • 400 g leeks, cleaned halved length-ways and cut into half moon slices
  • 1 pinch saffron thread
  • salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of
  • 450 g firm white-fleshed fish, cut to same thickness and size as potato slices
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons light cream
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 lemon, zest of

Layered fish and potato pie with saffron leeks

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200c.
  2. Bring a pan of water to the boil add the potato slices, return to the boil and and parboil for 3 minutes.
  3. Melt a third of the margarine in a separate pan over medium high heat; add the leeks and saffron, season with salt and pepper. Cover and sweat the leaks over medium heat for 10 minutes or until soft, add the lemon juice and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, grease an ovenproof dish with some of the margarine. Season the fish and potatoes with salt and pepper.
  5. Place half the potatoes in the greased dish, then half the fish, all the leeks, another layer of fish and lastly the rest of the potatoes overlapped across the top. Finish with a layer of sliced tomato.
  6. Sprinkle over cream, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile mix crumbs, cheese, garlic, parsley and zest together.
  8. Remove foil from fish dish top with breadcrumb mix, dot with remaining margarine.
  9. Return to oven uncovered and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown.
  10. Serve pie with vegetables or simple green salad.

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Tom Price and Karajini National Park

The first sighting of my favourite wild flower Sturt's Desert Pea

The first sighting of my favourite wild flower Sturt’s Desert Pea

Once again, we visited here around 6 years ago at around the same time, so we had to find something new to do during our 4 night stay.

On Tuesday, we took a drive out along Karajini Drive, turned left into the national park and spend the day visiting Gorges. In rough order, we visited Joffre and Knox, Oxer Lookout, Weano, Kalamina and Circular Pool. It was a big day of driving on atrocious roads for the most part, and by the time we got to Circular Pool which we thought the prettiest on the day, we decided to go home and drive back out there today (Thursday) to make the climb to the bottom and explore the gorge properly. I was surprised to see all the gorges suggesting we could swim. I don’t remember that from our last visit here. The water must be freezing as they recommend wet suits if you intend to swim for any length of time. Pass!

Tom Price to Dampier Railway

Tom Price to Dampier Railway

Yesterday (Wednesday 16th),we headed out of town the other way along an unnamed sealed road that follows the Tom Price/Dampier railway Line. We then turned right onto “highway” 136, an unsealed road between Nanutarra Roadhouse and Munjina (formerly known as Auski Roadhouse). The road was fantastic and made for a fun day out.

Hamersley Gorge was also fantastic and although we’d been there before, the road in, parking and access is greatly improved since our last visit. We had never been to the bottom of it so decided this was the day to do it. It’s steep, and in parts you are crossing rock to get there, but I thought it was an easy 10 minutes down and an even easier 8 minutes up and absolutely stunning once we got there. My photos will never do it justice.

Hamersley Gorge

Hamersley Gorge

As there were no picnic tables at Hamersley, we drove on a few ks down highway 136, picked a pretty spot and pulled off the road for our lunch of Layered Chicken Salad I made earlier that morning. .

No town of Wittenoom anymore

No town of Wittenoom anymore

We continued down the road to the ghost town of Wittenoom. They mined blue asbestos up to the 60s before it became uneconomical and they realised the dangers of the stuff. According to a Wikipedia article on the place (well worth a read) 6 people remain in the ungazetted “town” living with no government services and no power. A drive round town shows the few remains of what was once the largest town in the Pilbara. We saw numerous warning re the danger of asbestos in the area but decided to take a look anyway as we were only visiting for an hour or so. The most exciting thing about the poor, sad town was finding our first patch of Sturt’s Desert Pea-my favourite wild flower.

After a look around the former town, we went on, looking for the Wittenoom Gorge we’d spotted on a map. When the dirt road turned to seal again and with no sign of the gorge, we decided to turn round and go home the way we’d come as the road was so good and we’d save 40ks of driving. When we got back to Wittenoom township, I suggested to Russ that the gorge might be along the road/street that seemed to cut through town into the hills behind. Sure enough, although any signage to the gorge had long gone, there it was. Such a pity something so beautiful has been defiled by the mining of something so deadly. The place is amazing. We weren’t the only daredevils and thrill seekers defying the rather graphic signage-we spotted a big off-road van parked in a lovely spot and two 4WDs passed us at another stage. WA roads and floods have long ago destroyed the low level crossings at creeks, so other visitors have created crossings over the creek beds. It was a fun visit of 4WDing and water crossings and stunning scenery.

Creek crossing Wittenoom Gorge

Creek crossing Wittenoom Gorge

We both agreed Wednesdays’ drive was by far the most scenic and enjoyable of our two days out in the park and also one of the best days out we’ve ever had.

Today has been a quiet day doing a bit of shopping, laundry, blogging and finally 4WDing up Mt Nameless behind the caravan park here in town. Lovely to Skype with son Daniel and grandsons Kobie and Rooke.  Tomorrow we’ll sleep on the side of the road somewhere, then Saturday we’ll be in Coral Bay. It’s important to shop well for Coral Bay as the little “supermarket” there basically doubles the price you’d pay anywhere else. Two smaller shops sell reasonably price fruit and veg from Carnarvon so no need to worry about that during our stay.

Wild flowers on Mt Nameless

Wild flowers on Mt Nameless

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Port Smith Day 10 (actually leaving for South Hedland)

Sunset and rain threatening over Port Smith

Sunset and rain threatening over Port Smith

Today we made the long drive from Port Smith to South Hedland. I hate to call any road trip boring, but the first 350ks of this one is!  The one thing in it’s favour is the road is so good, a real pleasure to drive along.

Melon and vegie stall in the middle of nowhere

Melon and vegie stall in the middle of nowhere

We pulled out onto the highway and after around 5ks came across a fresh veg stall. Turns out the woman and her husband live in the Port Smith caravan park (27ks away) and work on the Shamrock Farms melon farm in the growing season. They sell melons and obviously grow a few other things for sale on the stall. We came away with  tomatoes, capsicums, cucs zuccs, bok choy and parsley. I asked if I could take some photos for my blog so she arranged all my stuff and made me promise to Google a zucchini and chocolate cake recipe to make and add. What a lovely woman!The best and freshest produce we saw in 10 days

Not much more excitement for another 345ks. The scenery does improve after Pardoo Roadhouse as you start to enter The Pilbara, but my it’s mind numbing til then! I managed to sleep away around 100ks of it while Russ drove!

South Hedland Even the ugliest caravan parks have their moments

South Hedland Even the ugliest caravan parks have their moments

We’ve booked into a caravan park in South Hedland for a couple of nights as we need to do some shopping and find a Nissan dealer to look at the car, then it’s on to Newman and son Daniel.

Port Smith Day 5

Alf and steve get ready to go fishing

Alf and steve get ready to go fishing

Russ and Steve took the boat out fishing. They left at around 11 and got back at 5pm-they had to stay out that long to get the boat back in with the tide. They had a pretty good day fishing wise with 6 bream, 1 jack and two trevally coming home in the fish box.Alf, Steve and Russ did OK.

Kathy and I spent a relaxing day chatting at her van whilst she sewed a raggy quilt. The sewing seemed to attract lots of droppers-in which was really nice too.

Thursday night is the camp dinner. Fish and chips for something completely different! 6 years ago it was held in another part of the park. They now have a permanent home for it down the back with a kitchen and 2 commercial deep fryers to cook with. 6 years ago they had an assortment of small bench top fryers and saucepans, so this new gear must make life so much easier when you’re cooking for around 150 people.

Steve and Kathy enjoying the park dinner

Steve and Kathy enjoying the park dinner

We sat in a semi circle with the kitchen and band making up the rest of the circle and the centre became a dance floor later in the night. The fish was fresh, and it and the chips were hot and crispy, but Russ and I got the meanest little bit of fish for our $5. 6 years ago, $5 got us 3 pieces and seconds were free. Seconds are now a “donation”.  I’d rather pay a bit more and get a more generous serve, and the fish apportioner needs to learn about portion control! Kathy made a tossed salad, and I made coleslaw so that part of the meal was generous and good!

Shoveller Family BandOnce again, the Family Shoveller Band came over from Bidyadanga community to play. Same father, son and grandson, all 6 years older and better we thought, musically! Father, Frances Shoveller was the music teacher at the community 6 years ago but he might be retired now. I’m not sure. Anyhow, they gave at least 4 hours of good entertainment.

Port Smith

A good spot for Mangrove Jack

A good spot for Mangrove Jack

We first visited Port Smith about 6 years ago. Back then, I expected a “port” to have maybe a pub with sunset views, a general store, fish and chip shop and servo at the least. We arrived with my outlandish expectations and a lack of fresh food and drink for our 10 day stay, to find a caravan park and a bird park on leased land, close to what is known as Port Smith Lagoon. Nothing else! The sandflies were plentiful though and almost ate us alive! But, it was a friendly, well run park with a great camp dinner of a Thursday night featuring entertainment by the Shoveller Family Band from the nearby Bidyadanga Community, and the fishing was fantastic.
Two years ago, we arrived earlier in the season-just at the end of May. The camp dinners hadn’t started but the fishing was even better than we remembered (maybe a bit of prior knowledge, a depth sounder and a bigger motor helped). The sand flies were slightly less annoying that year.

Port Smith Caravan ParkOn June 30th, we arrived to start a 10 night stay. The prices have gone up and it’s now $40 a night but they give one free night for each week booked. I understand the price rise though-these people have to make their own power and treat their own water, it’s 160ks to Broome for supplies and 22ks of that is a sometimes rough dirt road. It was rough yesterday as it’s been cut up with recent rains they had here.

The park is really nice-we have a site on red sand but it’s got lovely big shady trees on either side separating us from our neighbours. We just pop down mats and ignore the sand. And so far this year, NO sandflies although they do show up after rain! We’ve been taking massive doses of Vitamin B12 in preparation for them though! There’s a camp dinner on this Thursday night. It’s fish and chips this week-we take our own tables and chairs, salads and drinks and our payment of $5 is a donation to the RFD.

Port Smith and the bird park were originally part of a cattle station. In the olden days the house at the bird park was an outstation used when they sent cattle by barge up to Broome (about half the distance to droving them across land).

Around the 1940s, the house was leased to a pearl farm nearby as accommodation. When we first visited, at low tide you could see a massive chain strung across the lagoon. It was used in storms to secure the pearl luggers in safety. After the pearling stopped, the house was turned into the bird park with beautiful gardens open to the public. It was open when we first came here 6 years ago, but had closed by the time we returned 2 years ago. The owner has retired.
On three sides, Port Smith CP is surrounded by aboriginal communities -Bidyadanga being the largest (and apparently, the largest in all WA). It has between 800 and 1500 residents living there at any one time. Mr Shoveller (of the Shoveller Family Band) was the high school music teacher there 6 years ago. The land was returned to the aboriginals, and the caravan park leases it’s land from the Bidyadanga community. Those communities are very important customers for the caravan park shop and I’d say a big part of their regular income.

Our stay at Port Smith will be a quiet one with no TV, phone or internet reception (can you imagine?!). We watched the first of the pile of DVDs we brought along just for here, last night. Fishing is very reliant on the big tides and around 4 hours is all you can spend out or you can’t get the boat back to shore, well you can but you have to walk miles over soft sand to get the car which may get bogged retrieving the boat!

Tomorrow we have friends Steve and Kathy arriving for a few nights so that will help liven things up. We first met them in Karumba and it’ll be good to see them again!

Last night, we had an amazing dinner (I wish I’d taken photographs). It was a green pawpaw salad over cold soba noodles. When I’d arranged all that, I topped each serve with just cooked chilli/garlic prawns. Our prawns aren’t real big, so if you were using larger ones, you might want to use less-it’s up to you. Our pawpaw, snow peas and herbs came from Kununurra market and the prawns from Karumba.


My Green Pawpaw Salad

  • 1/2 green pawpaw, shredded (I have a Kiwi brand tool just for this)
  • ¼ red onion, sliced fine
  • ½ red capsicum, sliced fine
  • 1 carrot shredded, (I have another tool for this)
  • 1 dozen snow peas, blanched in boiling water until bright green, drained under cold water, then shredded lengthways. Just pour water out of the kettle over them and let stand a couple of minutes.
  • 1/2 cup each of fresh coriander leaves, basil leaves, mint leaves, torn if they are very large.

Dressing

  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ¼ cup palm sugar syrup (I use Ayam brand available at Woolworths)
  • Juice of one lime (it was very juicy and gave me about ¼ cup)
  • Chilli sambal to taste (I started with one teaspoon then kept adding and tasting til I was happy)
  • Cooked, rinsed, cold, soba noodles to serve

Chilli/Garlic Prawns

  • About 24 medium raw, green prawns, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons chilli sambal, or to taste

Method

  1. Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients, pour over and toss well. Set aside.
  2. Cook the soba noodles following the instructions on your packet, then rinse under cold water and drain.
  3. While the noodles are draining, heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and chilli and stir for about a minute. Throw in the prawns and toss around until they change colour-about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Place the noodles in serving dishes (we eat this sort of meal out of a shallow bowl) arrange the salad over them making sure to distribute the dressing between each plate, and then top with the cooked prawns. Yum.

Today, (our first full one here) we felt was a really productive one. We’d done three loads of laundry (including stripping the bed and remaking it), folding the rest and putting it all away, Russ had caught baitfish for us, we’d had our lunch and we were off out fishing all by 1pm. Gotta love weather like this for the doing of laundry!
Our first days’ fishing was really good. We brought home three good sized golden trevally, 3 yellow fin bream and a queenfish. We threw back several big golden trevally, an even bigger diamond trevally, cod, undersized bream and a just undersize mangrove jack. And we were only out for three hours. We hardly lost any gear, only caught one rubbish fish and the weather was perfect.

Some of the fish will be eaten tonight, some will be smoked, pickled, frozen and we’ll give some to the park people for the fish and chip night Thursday. And we’ll go and try and do it all again tomorrow. Once we have some fish smoked, it’ll be used for dips, scrambled eggs, kedgeree, fish pies, patties and smoked fish soup. It’s great for a change from regular fresh fish.

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Broome

Camel ride at sunset on Cable Beach

Camel ride at sunset on Cable Beach

6 years ago we visited Broome for the first time and didn’t really enjoy our two week stay. We decided that in the future we’d pass right by the turn off into town but we have good friends here so visited again two years ago.

Gantheaume Point

Gantheaume Point

Two years ago we stayed 9 nights and loved it. We realised then, that we’d not enjoyed the caravan park (and the site we were allotted) on our first stay. On our second visit, and this one, we decided to stay at Cable Beach Caravan park and our opinion of Broome changed dramatically! The only problem now is cost-at $52 a night for a site, it’s yet another place getting too expensive for us to stay at. It’s a pity because the sites are big and well shaded and the park has lots of ablution blocks with great, big, showers! We were given a site by the pool and although we haven’t swum in it, the water running over the rocks is a very pleasant sound to sit outside by.

It’s the last of our 5 nights tonight, and we really have had another good time. Our boat motor

Taken from Town Beach boat ramp as we launched the boat

Taken from Town Beach boat ramp as we launched the boat

had to be serviced and have some minor repairs done (very important it’s going well for Port Smith where we like to get right out in the sea on good days), then we got in two days of fishing. One the first, we launched off the Gantheaume Point end of Cable Beach. It was fairly windy, we caught no fish to speak off and I really didn’t enjoy the day. Yesterday we put in at Town Beach and headed up the creek-it was sheltered, not to hot, calm and we caught fish! A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon! Right now, I’m in the process of pickling the queen fish and trevally we caught and we’re having sooty grunter for dinner

As well as fishing, we’ve been enjoying sunsets on the beach, the beach, shopping and last night, we had dinner out at a Japanese restaurant with our good fiends Jimmy and Beth. We met Jimmy and Beth 7 years ago at Coral Bay when we were all caravanning. They gave up when they got to Broome, Beth got work and they bought a house and rescued a couple of dogs and a cat. They are the reason we keep visiting Broome now.

Sunset

Sunset

Dinosaur footprint

Dinosaur footprint

This morning with the very low tide, we walked out to the dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point. If anyone is liable to hurt themselves, it’s Russ, and he did a great job of it this morning. He slipped on the rocks as we were clambering over them to get back to the car and cut his hand and all the way up his arm on the barnacles on that rock. He really made a mess of it. After we’d been to the dinosaur footprints, we visited the Courthouse Market. It’s very big so I can’t believe that a market of it’s size had only ONE fresh fruit and veg stall which was annoying as we need to stock up for our stay at Port Smith. We go to Port Smith for 9 days tomorrow. This morning, I was pleased to run into Steve and Kathy who we met in Karumba and find out they’ll be spending a few days at Port Smith too.

Quick Pickled Fish

Ingredients

  • White vinegar
  • 1/2 Kg scaled fish fillets (fillets of herring or tommy rough can be used but whiting fillets are recommended)
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or peanut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 small clove of garlic – crushed
Pickled Fish

Pickled Fish


Optional Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients to the vinegar and stir. Place the fillets in a suitable glass container and cover with the vinegar mix. Leave to stand for approximately 1/2 an hour

Pickled fillets are ready to eat after 1/2 an hour, but taste better if refrigerated and left for about 12 hours.
The fillets can be stored in the bottom of the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Always make sure that there is some liquid covering them when stored.
They can be used as an entrée,or a quick snack on a hot day – taste great.
NOTE: Quantities of herbs, spices and garlic can be varied to suit individual taste.

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