My husband and I took thousands of photos during our trip around Central Australia and it was quite a feat to go through them all. So I’m just sharing the highlights with you all!
We went with two friends and their two kids (twins aged 6), while our kids were ages 14, 12 and 8.
Our friends are planning a yearlong trip around Australia, so this was a “trial” trip for them – we were just tagging along! Sort of! They were the ones who spent an incredible amount of time doing all the reading, research and planning for places to go, places to camp, routes to take, things to see, maps to print out, equipment to take, etc etc.
We travelled in two 4WD Toyota Prados, one towing a camper trailer (theirs) and one with a regular trailer (ours).
Day 1 – We left Perth drove and about 6 hours to Coolgardie (just East of Kalgoorlie).
Since we had kids, we had lots of toilet stops and a long lunch stop to stretch our legs, so we were on the road for about 8 hours.
We used an app called, WikiCamps to find ourselves a roadside, campsite in the bush.
It wasn’t an official campsite and it had no water, electricity, toilets, showers or anything. It was just a nice patch of dirt amongst some bushes. We made sure we left the place as it was and took all our rubbish away.
It was kind of fun, we felt like we had the whole outback to ourselves.
Day 2 – We drove into Kalgoorlie and stopped to see the Super Pit, Australia’s second largest open cut gold mine. It’s about 3.5km long, 1.5km wide and about 600m deep.
It was humongous and rather horrifying to think about it’s ecological impact.
We hung out at Hammond Park in Kalgoorlie.
It was a fantastic playground for kids – lots of green grass, picnic areas, shade, climbing things, sculptures, a pond, a kiosk and an aviary.
There was a large emu enclosure with some beautiful emus and peacocks.
And there were some cages with talking cockatoos – my kids had never heard a bird say “Hello” and it kind of BLEW. THEIR. MINDS.
We drove north for 1.5 hours to a town called, Menzies.
Then headed west to Lake Ballard, a salt lake made famous by a permanent art exhibition called “Inside Australia” created by artist Antony Gormley.
It features 51 metal sculptures based on laser body-scans of local residents from Menzies and a few “out of towners”.
The sculptures were ghostly and creepy but beautiful and serene at the same time.
Set in the vast landscape, surrounded by salt, visitor’s footsteps, mud, rocks… it was quite an extraordinary sight.
The sculptures were spread out over 10kms, so it was quite a walk. I only saw about 5 of them.
We anticipated that the ground was going to be muddy and sticky, so we taped plastic bags over our boots. Or course, the kids climbed the rocky hill, which ripped up their plastic bags, and they ended up with muddy boots anyway.
This was our set up! Since we were covering so much distance and stopping at so many places just for one night, we decided to buy two pop up tents. They were awesome, because they literally took 10 seconds to set up and 2 minutes to pack away.
They aren’t so good with rain, wind or storms though, hence we brought a gazebo for extra shelter (you can see the gazebo frame set up in the photo, because the weather was a bit iffy).
We camped at the edge of the salt lake, at a designated campsite.
We had a spectacular view of the sunset!
This is my 8yo, who, after cleaning his boots and changing into his clean clothes, decided to take a photo of the sunset without stepping away from his tent, to keep his socks clean.
The sunset was amazing!
The hills, the lake, the sand all around us changed colours, in a magical, delicate, subtle way; with hints of gold, pinks, oranges and pale greyish purples – oh the colours – it was hard to believe it without seeing it with your own eyes!
Day 3 – We drove north to Leonara, then over to Laverton where we began “The Outback Way” route, which is the main road through Central Australia.
It was also the moment the sealed bitumen stopped and the famous red dirt road began.
I had always thought that central Australia was barren like a desert. Turns out that it’s quite green and full of trees and shrubs. I guess it would look very different in Summer (it is Winter in Australia now) and I can only imagine how beautiful it would look in Spring.
We had such good luck with the weather and lack of rain, therefore the roads were in excellent condition.
We spent 7 hours on the road (including a few stops) and covered about 500km. We camped at another bush campsite off the main road.
Day 4 – We woke up at 6am for another long day on the road. We stopped at the Tjukayirla Roadhouse and thanks to the internet, we were keen to try their “famous” Tjukayirla Burgers. They were $18 each! I was very skeptical, but to our delight, the burgers were delicious.
We fuelled up at Warburton. And arrived late into the Warakurna Roadhouse, where we camped for the night in a Unpowered Caravan/Campsite.
We drove for about 500kms and again it took about 7 hours, including lots of stops.
Oh and it was my first shower in 4 days.
* I could have had a shower at any roadhouse along the way, but it didn’t quite fit into our driving schedule, so I survived on baby wipes.
And on that note, I’ll end this blog post – ha!
My next blog post is about arriving in Uluru / Kata Tjuta National Park.