Before we can tell you what our favourite places and experiences were, we need to give a big cheer to our kids Noah and Chloe. Without their help, opinions and enthusiasm, this trip would have been very different. Our teamwork was complimented many times by the grey nomads, especially directed at the kids when setting/packing up.
Noah, our handsome young man, sorted the stabilisers, hammered in all the pegs, set up awnings and was always on the front box lifting or folding the canvas. We are so proud of his teamwork and initiative, but especially the kind, thoughtful person he has always been. Opening doors for strangers and contributing to any adult conversation that was had around the campfire, he has grown so much. No longer did he ask for us to get his scooter of the roof of the car, he was up there taking both of them off and strapping them up when done. Thank you Noah.
Chloe, our inquisitive girl, can now do her jobs unprompted (well maybe just a little prompting now and then). Chloe was always on top of the trailer undoing/doing up the clips, sealing the velcro around the top and tying down the sides. She also pulls out and sets up the kitchen on arrival. All this before running off to the jumping pillow or the beach sand to play. She was also in charge of the evening wash up, collecting everything up and hauling Noah off to the camp kitchen. At every turn there was at least 5 questions about anything and everything. Never stop learning Chloe.
So, now that we are home, we are often asked the “favourites?” question, and we spent the last week on the road having a healthy debate between the four of us. It helped to pass the time and bring back some memories for the kids too. Anyway, here is the hardest blog to write!
Camping Spot – Big 4 Howard Springs! Thanks for the company, Karen Wilson, we just loved sharing our epic adventure with you! You coming was such a highlight for us. And our friendly neighbours, the Perry’s, bonding over shared hose connections to fill the tanks! Memorable 9 days with very special people. (Possums nearly ruined it all!)
Experience – it was hard to agree on this one, so kids voted the Darwin waterfront with the wave pool and RFDS facility and the adults went for ‘Walk Darwin’ tour. If we could add more, it would be the Territory Wildlife Park!
Camping Spot – although we really wanted to camp at Jim Jim, it was still closed (sorting out the crocs) so Cooinda was perfect for 8 nights. It was like camping in the bush, but with a pool, restaurant and facilities within reach.
Experience – it was a tie between Gunlom Falls especially the infinity pool at the top (of a 500m vertical climb!) and Ubirr rock arts/crocodile watching at Cahill Crossing.
Camping Spot – SA/NT border. The best free camp. Watched the stars at their brightest as there was no light pollution at all. We were all on our own there.
Experience – Mataranka thermal pools. This was Chloe’s absolute favourite place and probably pushed her swimming skills to the next level because she never got out of the water.
Kata Tjuta National Park
Camping Spot – Ayers Rock Campground. We just didn’t fit into the unpowered sites, Myrtle is 6 x 8m, so we were upgraded to the powered section. This was the first time we plugged in. The resort was fantastic, loved the Astronomy talk (with a huge telescope) too.
Experience – Mala walk. This free ranger guided talk took two hours at the base of Uluru and focused on the history as well as current life of the Ananou people. It also helped with our family discussion on why we should/shouldn’t climb. These were the best school days for the kids (and adults).
Camping spot – Gumbanan, perched on an escarpment, looking out to Curlew Bay and the Indian Ocean. We thought we’d stay for 2 nights, ended up staying 8 nights. Probably our favourite camp spot of the whole adventure.
Experience- Southern Cross Lullumb walk with Bolo. Although we explored the Damper Peninsula for 2 weeks, spending the day with Bolo and his family in Bardi Jawi country was an experience we won’t forget.
Camping Spot – Ningaloo Station, another corrugated road but worth the beach front camping! We didn’t wear any shoes for 4 days. Bonfires on the beach, swimming on the reef and fishing heaven. This was Noah’s favourite spot.
Experience – Dive with the Whale Sharks. Thanks to Ocean Eco Adventures, this was the most humbling experience to swim next these amazing animals. All four of us got to swim along side whale sharks, and turtles with the bonus of seeing humpback whales that had just given birth to their calves. They were just starting their journey back to Antarctica.
Shark Bay World Heritage Area
Camping Spot – Francois Peron National Park. We were completely on our own, more beach front camping, more stunning views. This was Darren’s favourite spot. We were the only ones here and the colours stunning. Red sand, white sand, brilliant blue with the setting sun.
Experience – meeting the dolphins at Monkey Mia, it was on Noah’s ‘top three’ list and he was lucky enough to be chosen to give them a little feed of fish. Darren’s favourite experience here was being recognised in the street from http://www.Smithsgowest2018.com website! Thanks Angela!
Gibb River Road
Camping Spot – Ellenbrae Station. A little oasis along a bumpy, dusty road. The kids fell in love with Evie the dog, we ate the best scones and showered under a semi-outdoor boab tree (hot water thanks to a wood fire stove). We also loved Kununurra – our beautiful neighbours Olivia and Matt! We sure hope to see you guys again soon.
Experience – Mitchell Falls. This was a hard place to get to. It took us 3 hours to travel 70km at one point but it was oh so worth it. The helicopter ride to the top of the falls, exploring every nook on the way back (under water falls and over rocks), it was a great slow amble back to camp. The rock art here was incredible as well.
Camping Spot – ‘Gravel pit past the sink hole’ on WikiCamps. 509km east of Esperance. It was a magic free camp! Totally found it by chance.
Experience – watching Noah build epic campfires each night to keep us warm. He has mastered the ‘flint & steel ignition like a true bushman. The three days traveling across was not so Nulla-boring after all!
Camping Spot – Whyalla foreshore. We were 5m from the water (again) and Noah spent half the day fishing. It was also our last time camping in Myrtle for the epic adventure.
Experience – Day at Coffin Bay. Exploring this little coastal town had us chatting to the local volunteer ambos, walking along the numerous jettys and learning all about the oyster industry from Chris at PURE Coffin Bay Oysters.
Camping Spot – Riba’s Underground. Rick and Barbara (RIBA) were really great hosts giving honest advice on what to do and see with kids. Everything that was recommended was tops. They also had their own mine their and did a real hands on tour. Lotsa flies here!!!
Experience – This place was also on Noah’s top three list! All of it, the shops, mines and churches. The most interesting place (maybe a little weird) was Faye’s Underground Home. This house was dug out by three women over 10 years. They made sure to have a cellar, bar and indoor pool. They sure liked a party.
So that is a quick answer to “what was your favourite?” We did so much more that it is extremely difficult to narrow all our experiences down to one short blog post.
In the end, we managed to do a hell of a lot together, cover many 21, 595 kms of this awesome country and had a great time doing it. Next, it’s either smithsgonorth or smithsgosouth!
Thanks for coming along with us.