location
Hobohome Motorhome main logo
Tales of the travels, trials and triumphs as we explore Australia in a converted bus
We are about here! Click for SPOT Page
We are here

Motorhome Travels - September 2011

Gavin's Rant

<rant>

Why is it that the stupid behavior of just a few people can stuff it up for the rest of us?

Dig a bloody hole! - [Click for a Larger Image]
Dig a bloody hole!

The Gibb River Road makes its way through some of the most amazing natural landscape that Australia has to offer. It is a truly wild and isolated place - and yet there is TOILET PAPER in almost every roadside stop and riverside camp. What is wrong with these people? THE BUSH IS NOT A FLUSH TOILET!!! The paper does not magically disappear like it does at home.

We have seen this all over Australia and we have always blamed it on the foreigners travelling in those small rental vans. Well there are not many of those out here and yet there is plenty of toilet paper.

There are a number of station owners who are putting up NO CAMPING signs at every roadside and river side stop on their property, local councils are doing the same - they are doing this because of the disgusting mess left behind by a tiny minority of travellers.

We need to take a stand against this or we are going to find ourselves with nowhere to camp in the wild places.

The solution is very simple - all it takes is a shovel. For campers who do not carry a chemical toilet - just dig a hole! I am going to start handing out fliers to every small camper/ camper trailer and tent dweller I see, pointing out the problem and the solution. I call upon all responsible travellers to do the same. You can make your own flyer - or you can download mine here (370K pdf file).

By doing this we will achieve two things...

  1. We will demonstrate to land owners and councils that as responsible travelers, we will not tolerate this behavior.
  2. We may just educate some of the fools who can not currently see the harm they are doing.

</rant>

01/09/2011

The Gibb River Road, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
The Gibb River Road, WA

We are just over half way along the Gibb River Road as I write this. Right now we are stopped at a wonderful little camp that is about 1km off the road on a wide section of the Durack River. We have the bus parked on a bank that is about 15 meters above the river - we think that there is a reasonable chance that a saltwater croc might just lurk below the slightly muddy water. Shining our spotlight on the water at night reflects a number of eyes and we have seen freshwater crocs on the opposite banks. Better to be safe than lunch.

Hobohome crosses a creek, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Hobohome crosses a
creek, WA

I have had quite a few readers ask what the road is like and is it suitable for normal vehicles. This is really hard to answer. In places the road is as smooth as an airport runway - in other places it is very corrugated and in places there are large rocks on the road. There are a number of creek crossings but none of these are deeper than about 600mm (so far). One thing that you should be aware of is that while the road itself may be ok, almost all of the gorges and rivers are some distance from the main road. The quality of the roads and tracks to these gorges is far poorer than the GRR itself. One gorge we visited had a horrible track with a deep creek crossing and some huge rocks and holes (we needed to engage low ratio in the bus to get through). The sign at the gorge end of the road welcomed us to the gorge, had all the normal "no camping" and "no dogs" symbols ... and a note telling us that the road (that we had just traveled to get there) was 4WD only - perhaps the sign was at the wrong end of the road???

Hobohome has been well prepared for these types of roads, we have done everything we can to make it as robust as possible. Thus far we have had no issues with the motorhome. The poor little Vitara that is getting dragged behind is not doing quite as well. The quantity of dust that has found its way inside the car is almost at the point of needing a shovel to remove it. Every single part of the car has been penetrated by the fine powdery Martian dust. Some of the door locks will now not operate, there is dust in the instrument cluster and inside the stereo speakers. I am not sure it will ever be the same! If you do decide to drive this road, either bring plenty of spare tires OR learn how to repair them. We have only had one puncture (that was in the car) but we have seen more than a dozen people changing tires on the side of the road. There is only one place to get tires repaired along the entire 647km of the road.

Simply "taking it slowly" is no guarantee of success, driving at speeds below about 65km/h on the heavily corrugated sections is like having the entire vehicle strapped to a paint shaker machine. This makes driving fairly stressful - at this speed the ride is smoother, but you have very little time to react to large rocks, holes and dips in the road.

Have I put you off? Well don't be, if you have a reasonably robust, high clearance vehicle, a few spare parts and extra tires, this place is a MUST SEE. Even at this time of the year when perhaps there is the minimum of water, it is absolutely spectacular. We have thus far enjoyed every moment of the trip.

Here is a video of what it is like to drive Hobohome along a corrugated section of the road


Many of the stations along the way offer camping at between $12pppn and $18pppn and we have used a number of these (mainly because it is the only way to get access to a number of the gorges). There is no shortage places to camp along the way - many of the creek crossings have tracks that lead to secluded spots amongst the trees. A good look with Google Earth is well worth while and can save many hours of hunting for a camp spot.

Hobohome crosses a creek, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Hobohome crosses a
creek, WA

Bell Gorge, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Bell Gorge, WA

Water Monitor poses (briefly), WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Water Monitor poses (briefly), WA

Manning Gorge, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Manning Gorge, WA

Galvins Gorge, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Galvins Gorge, WA

Harmless Black Headed Python, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Harmless Black Headed Python, WA

 

05/09/2011

El Questro and the Ord River

Hobohome crossing the Pentecost River, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Hobohome crossing the Pentecost
River, WA

Our last stop along the Gibb River Road was El Questro Wilderness Park. This is a station that has long since given up farming beef for the far more profitable business of farming tourists. This is no family owned business, it is a major corporate enterprise - but this does not detract from what they have to offer, in fact it probably helps. There are a number of gorges to explore on El Questro and the walks are very well marked and the information sheet on each walk are all very good. Our first walk was a 5.5km hike to champagne pools, a very pretty set of pools feed from a hot water spring and a waterfall. It was here that Tracey accidently sat upon a small snake. Not particularly happy with being sat upon it bit her on the back of the leg. Like any concerned husband I leapt into action and captured a photograph of the beast as it tried to escape the scene of the crime. We think it may have been a moon snake - these are not venomous. Other than some slight local swelling, there were no ill effects.

The snake that bit Tracey, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
The snake that bit Tracey, WA

Our second walk was up El Questro gorge. We left the campground for the gorge early in the morning and I have to say this has to have been one of my favorite short walks of all times. It was amazing to enter the gorge and follow the stream as the gorge became more and more narrow. There were points where it was almost possible to touch both walls. At the halfway point there is a deep pool of water that has to be swam before continuing to the beautiful waterfall and pool at the end of the walk. We arrived at the waterfall just in time to see the first rays of sunlight enter the pool from the small slot of sky some 80m above us. Because the gorge is so narrow, the sunlight on the pool lasted only about half an hour and we spent most of that time swimming. I think the entire return walk is about 8km and I can strongly recommend it to anyone who is reasonably fit - you wont regret it!

The road from El Questro to the main north road had been graded just a few days before and from reports it was seriously in need of that attention. We were both VERY please to see the bitumen main road after so many kilometers of very rough dirt roads.

El Questro Gorge, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
El Questro Gorge, WA

Halfway swimming hole, El Questro Gorge, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Halfway swimming hole,
El Questro Gorge, WA

End swimming hole, El Questro Gorge, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
End swimming hole, El Questro Gorge,
WA

We arrived in Kununurra on Thursday and were pleased to begin the process of cleaning up both the bus and the Vitara. The poor little Vitara was so full of dust that it took me all day to get the majority of it out. To make matters worse one of the river crossings at El Questro was deep enough to allow water into the car - this turned the red dust into red mud!

We had been looking at a canoeing trip down the Ord River, from the dam on Lake Argyle to Kununurra. While I am sure it would have been a wonderful trip, the thought of paddling more than 60km was a bit of a turn-off - solution ... why not take OUR boat up there. The cost of the fuel would be tiny when compared to the cost of hiring the canoes. So on Saturday morning we put the boat in the river, loaded it up with camping gear (including our swag) and headed up the river. It took us almost all day to reach the dam at the lake with lots of stops along the way to get out and look around. The scenery was quite spectacular with lots of birds and crocs to keep us amused. By 4pm we were setting up our little camp a few meters above the banks of the river just a few kilometers from the dam wall.

Tracey pilots the boat up the Ord River, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Tracey pilots the boat up the Ord
River, WA

Herbies Hideaway, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Herbies Hideaway, WA

Our camp for the night, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Our camp for the night, WA

The sunset was quite breathtaking and the silence only shattered by the sound of the occasional splash from a croc entering the water. Once it became completely dark we scanned the water and were not surprised to see more than 10 sets of eyes watching us. There must be a lot of crocodiles in the Ord River (we are told that there are few if any saltwater crocs in the river)!

An early start had us packed up and leaving the campsite before 8am and there was time for a swim at Herbies Hideaway (an amazing little waterfall and crystal-clear pool) before we got back to the bus around 2pm. We both really enjoyed the trip up the river and my arms enjoyed not having to paddle to get there!

 

16/09/2011

Quick trip through NT

We have both been overcome with an illness that has badly effected our day to day lives. Rugby fever (caused by the Rugby World Cup being played in New Zealand) as kept us inside and glued to the television. Ok - so that is a bit of an exaggeration - but we have watched a LOT of rugby in the last week!.

Since we started a-framing the Vitara I have been concerned about what would happen if we got a flat tire in the Vitara while towing, would we know about it? To deal with this issue we purchased and fitted a tire pressure monitor. I carefully selected a system that is able to monitor 10 tires (that's how many we have on the road while towing). Unfortunately it came with only 8 sensors and I had to order the remaining two. These extra two sensors are waiting for us in Mt Isa. We felt that monitoring 8 of the 10 tires was much better than monitoring none. After all - what are the chances of getting a flat in one of those two un-monitored tires?

Oooo that cant be good!, NT - [Click for a Larger Image]
Oooo that cant be good!, NT

As it turns out, the answer to that question is "actually quite high". Since leaving the west coast we have had three flat tires - ALL THREE of these have been on the un-monitored position. While I'm answering my own questions, from the photo below you can se that the answer to "would we know about a flat tire on the Vitara while towing it" is most clearly "NO!"

While doing about 90km/h I slowed a little to let a 4WD pass us on a long straight. The driver pulled alongside and started yelling at me - thinking that he was just abusing us for being slow and holding him up, I was preparing to show him my middle finger when it became clear that he was trying to tell me something ... something about sparks ... wheel ... fire. When I finally pulled off the road and stopped he explained that he had been following our trail of sparks for some time. As you can see from the photo, the rear left tire was completely gone and we had been (happily) cruising along at 90km/h on just the rim (yes - I did silently apologize for almost giving him the finger). Well that's not good I said! We were about as far away as it was possible to be from a tire shop and we are down a rim. At that point we were both missing the Moke quite badly.

I noticed that our rear number plate was also missing and figuring that it perhaps fell off when the tire blew. So we decided to go back and look for it. We back-tracked, following a rather large set of groves in the road surface, for over 10km and found the missing plate. Needless to say the rim was destroyed.

We made it to Camooweal without further drama - but no rim to be found here. And a phone call to Mt Isa proved fruitless as well. We finally managed to find one in Brisbane and it is now on its way to Mt Isa to meet us when (and if) we get there.

Last time we were in the Northern Territory we blew 5 tires on the bus in just 3 weeks - what is it about NT?

Motorhome Map and Track

Ever wondered why are there Google Ads on the Hobohome Site?

It costs quite a bit of money each year to keep the Hobohome site running. We have decided to allow advertisements on selected pages of the site to help offset the costs involved in maintaining and hosting the Hobohome website. You can read more about how this works by clicking here. Thanks and happy Motorhoming and Caravanning - Gavin & Tracey.




Home          Travels          Crew          The Motorhome         Articles          Gallery          Links          Contact