28 Day Central Australia Road Trip, Part 1 Perth, Kalgoorlie, Menzies, Lake Ballard, Leonora, Laverton, Warburton, Warakurna

Uluru Road Trip 2017

Hi everyone!

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).

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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”.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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!

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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!

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

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.

After 28 Days of Camping

2017 Uluru Trip - Home

Well hello there!

I’m back from my epic 28-day road trip around central Australia.

RV motorhomes are the number one seller in the RV industry. With a well made motorhome your family and friends can experience the freedom and comfort that’s simply not possible in a regular hotel room. But to get your own RV, you need to know where to look and what qualities to look for. So here a great source to look for a suitable RV motorhome for sale , called Zervs, to get started on your RV adventure.

4 weeks without blogging, facebook and social media was certainly… refreshing, liberating and quite frankly, brain changing.

(I did do some updating, but I was only on social media for about 5 minutes every 2-3 days.)

So how was my trip?

We saw some truly amaaaazing sights, visited some unforgettable places and had some incredible experiences!

We had so much quality, family time – it definitely brought our family closer together.

It was great for our boys (aged 14, 12, 8) to experience this kind of bush camping; travelling to places where it was 4WD only, uncertain road conditions, bring your own water, fuel, food, recovery gear, cb radio and have no shower for 5-6 days.

We drove from Perth, to Kalgoorlie, Uluru, Alice Springs, East and West of Alice Springs, Coober Pedy, Streaky Bay (South Australia), Nullarbor, Cocklebiddy, Norseman, back to Kalgoorlie and Perth. We covered about 6500km.

I have a new appreciation for how BIG Australia is!

I do feel grateful for having experienced these places. I’ve heard so much about them, and I can now say with a bit of pride that I’ve been there.

I was struck by the beauty of the landscape and I loved watching the colours change around me throughout the day.

We discovered the joys of audiobooks.

And we discovered we all can sit in the car and be silent, for hours! We made a deal with our kids, if they sat quietly for 1 hour, staring out the window – without any devices. – they could have 1 hour on their phone/ipad (which meant 2 hours of peace and quiet for us). Some days we were in the car for 6-8 hours… and it was so quiet and relaxing. A long road trip with 3 kids?! Who would have thought?!

For me personally… 28 days was too long to be away from home, to be camping in a tent, rushing from place to place, in middle of Winter, with kids!

There was lots of setting up tents + bedding + camp kitchen for one night, then packing it all up again the next morning to be on the road by 8am.

I was cold. I was unsettled. I didn’t enjoy that bit. I craved to be in one place and settle down to make a temporary home. I craved to be in a warm space.

However, the nature of our trip was to cover a lot of distance and see a lot of things, with kids. So I just had to suck it up and try to enjoy as much as I could haha.

A few times during the trip, we stayed at a caravan park for 2 or 3 nights, which was good.

And a few times, we stayed with generous friends in Alice Springs, in their warm, comfortable home. We were so grateful they shared their house with us!

Despite everything… it hasn’t turned me off camping and seeing more of Australia.

We’re already planning our next camping holiday, which will be a much shorter 7-8 day trip.

Since coming home… I’ve been enjoying my soft, warm bed. My ever-lasting hot water shower. Indoor heating. Running water. Electricity. Simple, modern day conveniences.

I’ve been washing clothes, cleaning sleeping bags, airing the tents, storing our camping gear and sweeping up the dust balls in our house.

I’ve been catching up with family and friends. Doing all the things I love, like reading, cooking, writing, photographing, running, yoga… and slowly finding my groove again.

I’m so glad to be back!

I have lots and lots of updates!

Quick Getaway to Sandy Cape Campsite

Sandy Cape, Jurien Bay WA

My big boy and I took a walk at 6am to watch the pink sunrise over the sand dunes in our pyjamas. We were barefoot, bed-haired and blurry-eyed. We slid down sand dunes and almost got ourselves lost in the strange sandy landscape. Love sharing these silly moments with my kids!

This weekend, we took a few days off to go camping with friends. It was a much needed break for everyone.

I was quite torn though. I really didn’t want to go, because I was so stressed about all the preparations that needed to be done before we left.

(There actually wasn’t THAT much preparation. It just seemed a lot bigger and terrifying in my head.)

But as we arrived, set up camp, watch the kids run off and play and then made that first cup of tea on our camp stove… I felt my bones relax, my spirit soften, and that tight grip in my chest disappear.

It felt good to switch off and unplug from the rest of the world.

Sandy Cape, Jurien Bay WA

We went to Sandy Cape Recreation Park, which is near Jurien Bay, about a 2.5 hour drive from Perth. The “recreation park” name is a bit misleading though. It is a very basic, sandy camp site, with eco-toilets, rainwater tanks, a few BBQs and gazebos. No kitchen, no showers, no drinking water, and no pre-booking sites.

But it was definitely one of the best little campsites that we’ve been to!

Plus there were lots of things to do with the kids: Swimming, snorkelling, beach, sand dunes, bush walks, caves nearby, Pinnacles nearby, and lots of little towns to visit.

Rock Collections from the Helena and Aurora Range

Camping at the Helena and Aurora Range

We recently went camping in a very remote part of the West Australian bush. We were about 100kms away from the closest town and literally surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of bushland and not much else.

Once we set up camp, there wasn’t much to do except hike, walk, make a fire and look at the scenery.

We camped with our friends (another couple) and their kids, so in total there were 4 adults and 6 kids, aged between 14 and 6. I was a little nervous that the kids would wander off and get lost. But they were great. They entertained themselves really well.

They collected firewood, made a cubby house, dug holes and trenches, made their own garden, roasted marshmallows and played card games.

But after 2 days of that, they starting to fight and bicker – so we decided they needed a project!

My husband is a ‘project’ man, so he gave the kids a brief:

Create a rock collection based on shape, colour or texture and present them in a row, increasing/decreasing in size.

The kid with the best gradient would win $5. We gave them 2 days, and boy it was fun. The whole area around us was covered in weird little rocks and iron ore composite rocks with banded colours of compressed minerals. I’m not exactly sure what they were.

The kids were so quiet and so preoccupied for the rest of the trip! It was amazing!

On the last morning of camp, we put down a huge plastic sheet on the ground and the kids laid out their rock collections.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

With our feet covered in red dirt, we all stood around like art critics and examined the rock collections.

It was quite clever, creative, bizarre and entertaining at the same time.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

Everyone gave a little speech and presented their findings.

We all discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each collection.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

This was a very cute example of the smooth iron blobs scattered all over the range.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

This collection was less of a gradient and more of a line up of beautiful banded rocks.

The cube-like rock on the right, looked like a slice of chocolate waffer cake!

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

A very impressive triangle rock shape gradient!

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

And as a complete surprise to everyone, I secretly entered the competition with some heart-shaped rocks!

Impressive huh? I can’t believe how cute they looked.

They were so bloody hard to find! I pretty much had my head down looking at the ground the whole second half of the trip, and might have missed a few sights.

Here’s a close up.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

I was a bit embarrassed that I stole the limelight from the kids – it was their activity after all!

And I had a feeling that they (my own children) were a bit pissed off at me for cutting into their winnings, so my husband saved the day by creating different award categories (Best Size Gradient, Best Colour and Pattern Gradient, Best Presentation) and in the end EVERYONE WON $5 haha!

I absolutely love looking at these rock collections now. They put the biggest smile on my face :)

Camping at the Helena and Aurora Range

Last week we went bush camping with another family and headed out to the Helena and Aurora Range.

Where on earth is that? I hear you ask.

To put it simply, the Helena and Aurora Range is 100km North of the town called, Southern Cross, and is about halfway between Perth and Kalgoorlie.

It takes about 7-8 hours to drive there.

There is no power, no running water, no toilets, no showers. It was indeed the bush.

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

There was a whole lot of red dirt! It was a stunning colour and its consistency was strangely soft underfoot.

Looking back at it now, I can appreciate its beauty.

But trust me, the red dirt got EVERYWHERE and covered EVERYTHING. By the end of the trip, it was in our tents, our clothes, our underwear, our tea cups, our cutlery, our cooking utensils… we were literally EATING IT!

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

The campfire was a hit.

Collecting firewood. Pots of tea. Toasted marshmallows. 6 hour, slow-cooked lamb stew. Crackling wood. The glowing warmth on our faces. Watching embers fly high into the sky and dance with the stars above our heads. It was so enjoyable.

The nights were cold though. The temperature dropped down to -2 degrees.

I wore 4 layers of clothing, a beanie, gloves and scarf… and I was still uncomfortably cold. It was obvious that I should have invested in some proper cold-weather, “insulated” clothing… but we were only there for 5 days and I thought I could get by. Oops.

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

The next morning, there was frost and ice over everything.

Someone forgot to throw out the dish washing water and it froze into an impressive soapy chunk.

I’ve never seen that before – frozen outdoor things in Western Australia! Who would have thought!

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

I also forgot to tip out my camomile tea and it too froze into an cute little ice block.

 

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

The days were a bit cold too. We had daytime temperatures between 15C and 18C , and there was no wind and no rain.

So in fact, it was perfect for hiking and bush walking.

We did a couple of 4-5 hour bush walks up to the top of the range, along the ridge and along the base. We found small caves and over-hangs.

It was great!

The tracks were easy to walk along, but once we went off the track, everything looked the same and it was a bit disorientating.

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

The view from on top of the range was stunning!

The Helena and Aurora Range is made out of banded ironstone formations and the whole area was covered in a variety of little rocks. We weren’t entirely sure what they were, either banded ironstone, ironore comsposites, with quartz and ocre?

It was extremely dry, with very few birds, animals and insects. While the lack of visible wildlife made the place extremely eerie, I secretly enjoyed the fact that I DIDN’T have to worry about the kids getting bitten by a snake, spider, scorpion, or ants. -Concentrated with Jojoba & Sweet Almond Oil Karite butter DNA & RNA -Targets premature signs of aging of neck & decollete -Fights against loss of skin tone & flexibility Valmont Prime Renewing Pack -Restores firm & ageless looking neck & decollete -To use: Apply 1 e 2 times on neck & decollete – A rich moisturizing anti-aging cream With a lavish texture that dissolves quickly without leaving any greasy feel Helps combat the very first signs of cutaneous aging Concentrated with cellular Prime Complex to preserve flexibility & balance of skin while promoting oxygenation Can also be used as a day protective cream

Overall it was a beautiful place to camp and it was so serene, quiet and still.

In fact, the whole place had a magical and spiritual quality to it.

I really enjoyed it, despite being physically uncomfortable for most of the time (from the cold, not showering for 4 days, the constant use of baby wipes and menstrual cramps – blergh).

At the moment the region is proposed for iron ore mining, which is pretty sad.

If you’re interested, you can read a bit more about the conservation history and the national park proposal on the official Helena and Aurora Range website.