Ciarán & Elaine's Travelog

Monday, April 30, 2007


Broome is mainly famous for the spectacular sunsets at Cable Beach and now we can understand why. We spent 5 days in Broome staying at the Palm Grove Holiday Resort just a few minutes walk from the beach. The campsite is gorgeous with a really good swimming pool to jump into whenever the 38° heat got too much for us. It's so hot here, only cooling down to the mid 20's during the night and we're getting up so early everyday because the tent and the van are just too hot to sleep in, it's like trying to sleep in a sauna.

We spent a couple of nice days at the beach running into the warm water to try to cool off a little. Most of the evenings we've spent sitting on the beach or at Guantheaume Point watching the changing colours at sunset and we've had a couple of really nice meals out. On our last night in Broome we all took a camel ride over the dunes and down the beach. It was great fun. We never realised how big and smelly they are and the camel behind our one was completely nuts! Constantly trying to wander off into the bushes and eating everything in sight - I don't think the Japanese men on his back were too impressed with Elaine tempting it into the bushes at every possible opportunity, it gave us a good laugh though!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The long drive....

The west coast is huge! I don't think we really realised how big it was until we started driving.

We've driven more than 3000 km's since we left Perth. All of the towns are tiny, they wouldn't even rate as villages in Ireland! We've had emu's running out in the road in front of us and we must've had about 1000 bugs splattered on our windscreen!

From Coral Bay we drove into Exmouth and then on to Cape Range National Park. Cape Range NP was a bit of a washout as the rain there was torrential, but that didn't stop us having fun. We put on our swimmers and ran down to the beach and swam over the Ningaloo Reef in the rain. It was brilliant with turtles swimming by us and a big ray just floated past too. Then it was off for an early start as we headed north. Destination Broome which took us 2 full days of driving to get from Exmouth to Broome. On Thursday we drove over 1000km's!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Coral Bay

We have found Paradise... 700kms north of Monkey Mia is the tiny little town of Coral Bay (population 120, think Summer Bay)

It's the cutest town set right on the most beautiful beaches where you can walk out into the warm turquoise water to the coral of Ningaloo Reef, this has to be one of Australia's best kept secrets.
Ningaloo Reef is one of the biggest unspoilt reefs in the world. We've been in it, on it and over it and it is beautiful.

We've had a few perfectly lazy days in Coral Bay which have included a trip on a glass bottomed boat out over the reef where we snorkeled amongst hundreds of brightly coloured fish and huge snapper.

The coral here doesn't seem to be as brightly coloured as the Great Barrier Reef (what we've seen of it anyway) but the fish are far more brazen; swimming right up to us and brushing past. At one point I was surrounded by about 40 or 50 large snapper. It felt like they were eying me up for dinner instead of the other way round! It was brilliant diving down in amongst the coral and giant clams. The water was so warm I didn't want to get back on the boat!

We also took a scenic flight over the reef. Unfortunately the weather wasn't so great that day but the views were still spectacular. The 3 of us and a pilot crammed into a tiny Cessna 179 (I'm sure you'll be familiar with that one Peter, Bob & Rob!!) and headed south over the reef.
The views were breathtaking, you'll see what we mean by the photo's.

We love Coral Bay!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Monkey Mia

After a longish drive (about 500km's) we arrived at Monkey Mia which is a little resort just outside the gorgeous town of Denham on the Peron peninsula. The Monkey Mia resort is fab, beautiful beach with a nice cafe, restaurant and bar.

We're in Monkey Mia to see the dolphins which come into the beach each morning and are hand fed some fish.
We stayed here for 2 nights getting up at 7 each morning to see the dolphins swimming into the beach. We were lucky enough to see a little baby dolphin - it was the cutest thing ever!

The rest of the days were spent chilling out, reading, playing guitar and walking on the beach. On Friday night we sat out at the beach, under the stars watching a great band playing at the bar, such a lovely night.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


We left The Pinnacles and headed back to the highway. To give you an idea of the huge distances we're driving; it took us nearly 2 hours to reach the highway!

Next stop Kalbarri National Park. However our van had other ideas and broke down just outside Northhampton. We were so lucky we were near a town and not in the middle of the outback as there's no mobile signal anywhere except big towns. We called roadside assistance and they came and fixed us that evening.

One night and one power steering belt later we were driving again and got to Kalbarri National Park early that day.

The road into Kalbarri NP is an unsealed dirt track and it took about 1 hour to cover 25km and it was so bumpy the van sounded none too healthy and the end either.

We went to see Natures Window, The Loop and The Z Bend which were nice but not spectacular as the Murchison River was mostly dried out. We would love to be here in The Wet to see the river in the gorges in full flow.

Kalbarri town is a stereotypical Aussie seaside town where the kids go surfing and the men go fishing but the bay itself is really picturesque and we could easily stay here for a week just chilling

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Namburg National Park & The Pinnacles

Dad and I went to pick up the van which turned out to be slightly more traumatic that I first imagined. Whilst doing the basic hire car checks for scratches, bumps, lights etc. I turned the key in the ignition. Unfortunately, even though I checked the gear stick, the van lurched forward and began rolling down the hill. Luckily I managed to stop it just before hitting another car. Unluckily for me and Dad it had rolled over both our feet first - yeouch!

We hobbled in, picked up Elaine & our bags and left Perth for Cervantes - the first of many long drives on the West Coast.

The drive was pretty uneventful - a lot of scrub land, bush and red earth. Driving here is weird. Some of the roads are so straight you can see 8km straight in front of you.

We got up the next morning to go to The Pinnacles Desert in Namburg National Park. The Pinnacles look really cool - they're ancient limestone fossils and it looks you're on the moon. Some of them stand up to 5m tall! It's brilliant being out in such a desert environment. On the drive out we saw a family of 4 emu's just wandering across the road, completely ignoring the van. Amazing to see such huge birds just wandering around the place

Monday, April 16, 2007


We arrived in Perth on Saturday morning and spent the day wandering around the city window shopping and getting supplies for the next 4 weeks travelling up the west coast.

Our friends Holland and Bex were in Perth this weekend too so we had a couple of brilliant nights out with them, particularly Sunday night when Elaine turned into the dancing queen of the the nightclub!

Not being very organised we hadn't actually booked our campervan and when we started making calls on Sunday we discovered that there were none available for a week. Stress! After about 2 hours on the phone we found a company who had one left so we snapped it up. Can't wait to get on the road.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Red Centre

Our tour guide for our 4 day Ayers Rock (Uluru) name is Sauce and he's a long haired biker, funny guy. He picked us up at 11am and we were delighted to see Mike & Nicole were on the same tour as us. We headed off into the outback but after a couple of hours driving the bus started filling with steam. The radiator cap had blown off and we were broken down in the outback. It could've been a bad situation but luckily for us we happened to be right beside the only roadhouse for 300kms and even luckier, it had a bar and a pool so while we waited a few hours for a new cap to arrive we had a few drinks and enjoyed the cool water of the pool - a nice start to our tour.
By the time we arrived at our Kings Canyon camp it was dark so we rustled up some dinner and sat around the campfire with the other tour groups playing games.

It was an early start on day 2. We were up at 6am to do the rim walk of Kings Canyon. Starting off with a hike up the aptly named Heart attack Hill we spent the next 4 hours exploring the canyon, seeing areas like Colliers lookout, the Garden of Eden (thanks to the woman playing the panpipes!!) and even where they filmed Priscella Queen of the Desert!
Kings Canyon is stunning.

Back in the tourbus we headed towards Uluru but stopped off near Mt Connor and the salt lakes for dad to take a scenic helicopter flight over the area.

We arrived at Uluru just before sunset. From the viewing platform we could also see the sun going down at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). It was really beautiful.

Another early start for day 3. We got up in time to drive to Kata Tjuta to watch the sun rise, it was definitely worth the effort with the sun coming up behind Uluru and the colours changing by the second. After the sunrise we did the 8km Valley of the Winds walk at Kata Tjuta. It was a really good walk with our guide stopping to show us various plants that aboriginals use for food and medicine. We were glad we started so early too because by the time we got back to our camp at 10.30 it was already 30°c. We jumped straight into the swimming pool to cool off then after lunch we went to the Uluru cultural centre then we did the Mala walk at Uluru which is a short cultural walk where you can learn about the aboriginal uses and customs of Ayers Rock.

The girls from Elaine's job in Sydney bought her a Harley Sunset Tour of Ayers Rock when she was leaving. I couldn't let her have all that fun by herself so we went too. The biker guys picked us up on their Harleys about half an hour before sunset and took us on a ride around the rock before stopping for sunset and champagne. It was a spectacular sunset with the intense colours of the rock changing by the second. It felt like the rock was alive - really magic. The ride back to the camp at twilight was so much fun too!

Our 4th morning and yet another sunrise! This time at Uluru followed by the 9km base walk - it's a bloody big rock! Then it was back to camp to pack up for the drive back to Alice Springs and some dinner out with the group in Bojangles. A great end to a great tour.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Adelaide, Coober Pedy and Alice Springs

We got to Adelaide in time to surprise dad at the airport (he didn't expect us to arrive in Adelaide for 2 more days). It was really great to see him after nearly 2 years there was a lot to catch up on. Just aswell really considering how boring Adelaide is!

The next day we took a drive out to the Barossa Valley and went to a few vineyards to taste lots of wine. Jacobs Creek was really good and Bethany. Elaine was driving so we made sure we bought plenty to drink that night.

We had an early start for our tour to Alice Springs. We went with Groovy Grape Tours and have 1800kms to cover in 2 days - that's a LOT of time sitting on a bus staring out into barren desert! Our guide Tasha was really good though and tried to make it as interesting as possible. We had lots of stops during the day at salt lakes, Mt. Augusta etc. and on the first night we stayed in Cooper Pedy which is a small little Opal mining town. Because it's in the middle of the desert it gets up to 55°c during the summer so the town is literally built under the ground - our hostel for the night was in a cave!

Before we left the next morning we went on a mine tour and a tour around somebody's house (all underground) it's really amazing to see people living so happily like this! Time to get back on the bus though and another day full of driving - we even passed by this secret American military base in Pine Valley outside Alice Springs. There's a huge amount of security there and nobody in the area knows what they do but there's 3000 Americans living in Alice Springs and whenever asked what they do for a living they ALL say that they're gardeners - some pretty weird stuff going on in there I'd say!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Great Ocean Road

After a big weekend in Melbourne it was time to move on so we hired a car to drive the Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide. We eventually navigated our way out of Melbourne with their weird right-turn rules and got on the road.

We first stopped at the famous surfing beach Bells Beach outside Torquay. The Rip Curl Pro surfing competition is starting on Tuesday 3rd April, so the sea was packed with surfers practicing for the big competition. Some of them were amazing - really made us wish that we could do it!

We stayed overnight in Apollo Bay and went for a run. The views there and the surf were great. Apollo Bay is a quiet enough place so we had an early night and got up the next day and went to Mariners Lookout above the town for some nice views out over the whole Bay. The weather was pretty overcast but we've got our fingers crossed that it will get better when we get to the Twelve Apostles part of the road.

After we came down from the lookout we drove on again. Out luck was in and the weather was improving all the time. We spent the entire day stopping and getting out of the car every 5km or so and there were so many "wow" moments. The stretch of road between Apollo Bay and Portland is nothing short of spectacular.

The whole area is rugged sandstone with sheer cliffs dropping hundreds of feet into the huge surf below. The 12 Apostles (there's actually only 8) were stunning. A definite highlight of the Great Ocean Road. Then we saw the Arch and "London Bridge" - again these were absolutely beautiful.

We stayed the night in a dodgy 'hotel' in a dodgy 'town' called Portland aka Hicksville so next day we were up early to drive on to Adelaide. For some reason we thought it was only 200km but after a quick visit to the information centre we discovered it was nearly 600km, a long day in the car lay ahead of us!

This area of South Australia has been in drought for eight years so for hundreds of miles all we could see was barren flat dusty land, however from time to we were lucky enough to see more interesting things including wild emu's running along the side of the road. On one stretch of road we felt like we were driving through kangaroo death valley, literally every five metres there was a dead kangaroo, we must've passed at least 100 dead roo's! Things started to get a bit nicer when we reached Coorong National Park, not that it was a particularly beautiful place but after 400kms of barren land we really appreciated some trees!

Next stop is Adelaide where we meet up with my Dad who's joining us for our west coast trip. It'll be great to see him after so long away from home...