Around Australia Week 31 – 80-Mile Beach, Point Sampson, Barradale

The other day, Rob and I were chatting about our trip so far and looking at all the pictures taken over the past six months. We’ve had a cracker of a trip, seeing so many wonderful places… but we had to agree with the thoughts expressed with another Rob, whom we first met at Rollingstone. Rob and his wife Camille were showing us all the places they’d been, and it was impressive… highlighter everywhere on the map! Then Rob (Camille’s Rob) said: “Yes, this shows where we’ve been… but it also shows all the places we haven’t been yet. There’s a lot of Australia left to see!”

He never spoke a truer word. We’ve got an ever-growing ‘come back to’ list for both the places we would like to see again, and for the places we didn’t have time to see this trip. There are so many of them!

We’d like to follow the dinosaur trail and have a look at fossils (around Hughenden) and maybe also try a bit of fossicking (if the back and knees can stand up to it!) We’d also like to do a few loops around various states following the festivals and events (music, rodeos, art and craft festivals, and so on.) Rob would also like to chase up a few ocean swims. Hmmmm. I can see a lot of planning sessions coming up once we’re back at home!

Anyway, back to THIS trip. After we left Broome, we called in at 80 Mile Beach, a truly dreamy spot. We were there for only one night, but could easily have spent a week or three. This is a bit off the beaten track, involving a bit of travel over a dirt road (only about 10 ks) and you need to take some supplies in with you, because it’s not exactly close to shops! However, the little onsite store is very comprehensive (including sarongs and basic fishing gear, as well as a few staples) and they even get in fresh veggies once a week.

There’s nothing like that first sight of 80-Mile Beach when you come to the end of the red dirt track in, drive over the hill and see the ocean. Aaaahhh… you instantly want to stay for weeks! At 80 Mile Beach, we were pleased to catch up again with Rob and Robyn, whom we’d first met at Mary Pool.

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After leaving 80-Mile Beach we moved on to Point Sampson: recommended to us (you won’t be surprised to hear) by another caravanner. We took his advice and stayed for a couple of nights… and wouldn’t you know it: we’d love to have stayed for a couple of weeks! It was almost like going to a school reunion. We met up with Kath, JD, Jan and Russ again (they were on the Travellers Tales segment of our Katherine DVD); Janet and Bucko (from about four different places!)  and Hank and Yvonne from the Free Spirit park at Darwin. We also met some lovely new people like John and Julie Handley, parked on the site next to ours; Cliff and Angela Clegg (who were about to start travelling full time again, working their way around Australia); Greg and Evelyn Armour, and Doug and Steph (we all met up at their van for Happy Hour one night, because they had the ocean view!) This was a lovely place to stay… especially thanks to the popular seafood eatery right behind the park!

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While we were at Point Samson we took the opportunity to drive to nearby Cossack and Roebourne to check out the Heritage Trail. There are plenty of interesting old buildings (interior and exterior; some well-preserved, some ruins) to look at around here. We always like to visit the local cemeteries, too… they certainly tell a tale of hardship for these pioneers.

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And here’s a tip from a caravanner we met on our little excursion: “One of the best fishing spots is on the rocks directly behind the Japanese section of the Cossack cemetery!” Actually, we spotted her sitting up on the hill when we were wandering through the cemetery… and sure enough: right below us on the rocks was her husband, happily pulling in fish after fish. (What a pity Rob didn’t have any of his fishing gear with him!) However, he did stop and chat to another local he found fishing from the wharf: Donna, a plant operator at Rio Tinto. She was out fishing while her husband was sleeping after being on night shift. Donna wasn’t having much luck either: she thought it might have been that her hook was too big. Rob liked that one: he’s going to add it to his store of fishing excuses…

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We reluctantly left Point Samson after a couple of nights and kept making our way to Exmouth. We were planning on staying at the Nanutarra Roadhouse, but someone (I can’t remember who) suggested we keep going a bit further down the road and stay at the Barradale free camp instead. Why not? we thought… we haven’t done nearly enough free camping so far! And we had company… while we were grabbing a quick lunch at Nanutarra we met up with Di and Pete Hardaker and their dog Jasmine. We first met Di and Pete at Coffs Harbour when they were repairing their van (you may have seen it on the DVD: the wheel came up through the van and ate their printer!) Di and Pete decided to stay at Barradale too… and then along came Greg and Evelyn from Point Samson: before we knew it, our free camp stopover had become a three-van party.

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Pity nobody warned us about the flies. They obviously thought that Barradale free camp was an excellent place to hang out and annoy the tourists. Di and Pete were prepared with fly nets, but Rob and I were planning on buying them at Exmouth – uh oh, too late! Pete kindly gave his fly net to their dog, Jasmine, who was being driven dingbats by the flies, and I had to resort to putting the food cover-up net over my head. Hmmm. Didn’t work too well… flies kept getting trapped underneath. Note to self: don’t travel ANYWHERE without a fly net in future!


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