Nice to meet you

Nice to meet you

It is something I often say, but I mean it. It is nice to meet new people, and those that live in the Kimberley Region are some of the nicest (and purest) in Australia. Why wouldn’t they be? They live in what many refer to as the last great wilderness in Australia. That has to keep you grounded and connected to what is important.  

As we travelled along the Gibb River Road, we stopped in to say hello to Neville and Leonie from ‘Over the Range’. This beautiful husband and wife team offer the only dedicated full time tyre and mechanical service along the Gibb. They are sometimes called to help us out with new tyres, so it was nice to pop in and say thanks for their help this year.  

A little further down the road we called in to Mt Barnett Roadhouse. If you drive down the Gibb, you HAVE to stop in for one of their burgers. I didn’t eat for the rest of the day! They offer ‘the works’ burgers (be prepared!), vegetarian options and even fish burgers. The Roadhouse is also a great place to stock up on some provisions. They have fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen meats and groceries. Just bear in mind there is no alcohol for sale at any roadhouse along the Gibb. There is fresh water at Mt Barnett though, so you can fill your water tanks. 

Once we finished restocking and refuelling tummies (and fuel tank), it was time to head down to Manning Gorge (camp fees need to be paid at the Roadhouse). If you ask someone from the Western Kimberley “which is your favourite gorge?”, you will often be told it is Manning Gorge. Known for its large pools and early season waterfalls, this place is most spectacular in the morning sun. It is a 3km walk/climb in to the gorge, so best to avoid the heat of the day and tackle it nice and early.

Western Gibb River Road

Western Gibb River Road

The Kimberley Region has always been one of our favourite family holiday destinations. However, since we set up RedSands Campers we haven’t had a chance to really indulge in its rugged beauty, until this week. 

So, we swapped the chaos of city life for the slow pace of the bush; the brisk Perth weather for the Kimberley heat; and the rush hour of traffic for the rush hour of birds chittering and calling. Bliss. 

We have only trekked along the Gibb River Road from east to west. Starting in Broome gave us a whole new experience. We have always been obsessed with the eastern Kimberley, but this time we made sure we ventured further through the western Kimberley. Result? Equally obsessed!

If you are doing the Gibb River Road, make sure you check out Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. Great for a night stopover, which will give you enough time to do the walks and marvel at the 375-million year old Devonian Reef. Hard to imagine this area was completely submerged under water once upon a time. 

The next stop for us was Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a decent drive off the Gibb (88km one way), but the majority of the track (for us) was better than the Gibb. The camping facilities were clean with hot showers, gas BBQs and drinking water. Sure, it is a bit dusty at the campsites but we did visit at the end of September.  

Mornington is owned and operated by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and conducts conservation programs across this 3,000km2 property. We ventured out to Dimond Gorge and canoed along the Fitzroy River with the dramatic cliffs shadowing us on either side. There are lots of places to stop and hop out of the canoe for a swim. A necessity when temperatures are pushing 37 degrees!

If you don’t feel like cooking at the end of a busy day, Mornington has its own licensed restaurant and bar. It also offers guided tours and presentations. These can be pricey, but it is worth remembering where you are and what the money is going to.

The next day, we woke at the crack of dawn and went on a bird watching tour. Adam made a passing comment that searching for birds with binoculars made him feel old. However…..Adam and our teenage sons really got into the spirit and had a great time! It was so peaceful and we really got to appreciate the beauty and fragility of Kimberley life. Time stood still for those few brief hours as the sun rose across the majestic Kimberley.   

Time to head 'Down South' - the Aussie Summer

Time to head 'Down South' - the Aussie Summer

Whether you like white sandy beaches, dramatic Karri forests or relaxing wineries, Australia’s South West should not be missed. This region really has it all, and come summertime, it is popular. That is why you should make sure you plan your trip well ahead of time and book your camp sites early. The RedSands team like staying in nature campgrounds, like the ones managed by the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW). Their Rangers and campground hosts do a great job of managing the facilities, and are often up for a chat!

Please note, some campgrounds need to be pre-booked in the South-West Region. You can book up to 180 days (6 months in advance) via this website – https://parkstay.dpaw.wa.gov.au/

On a recent trip to Margaret River, we found some great sites at the Conto’s campground. Select either the ‘Chuditch’ or ‘Quenda’ campgrounds at Contos. There are lots of nice shady sites.

You cannot book at some DPaW campgrounds, but if you are travelling outside of Western Australian school holidays (https://www.education.wa.edu.au/web/at-school/school-life/future-term-dates ), finding a site should not be an issue. Cape Arid, near Esperance is one of our favourite South Coast locations and the best campground is Thomas River. Just make sure you stay at the top campground (on the hill), not the one down by the river as the facilities are better and so are the views! The top campground has been recently refurbished with new toilets and a great camp kitchen, where you will experience many bird species darting in and out of the surrounding banksias. Cape Arid has the most pristine white sand and aqua blue ocean in Australia. Simply stunning. 

While you are down that way, pop into Lucky Bay near Esperance. You will certainly see a few cheeky kangaroos in the newly upgraded campground and possibly on the nearby beach! You will encounter more people here, but it is very scenic. Make sure you visit Thistle Cove, Hellfire Bay and if you are up for a few hours hike, Frenchmans Peak offers stunning 360 degree views of this wonderful area.    

Our team's favourite locations

 Ningaloo Station, Western Australia

Ningaloo Station, Western Australia

Camping in Australia is a soulful experience. The feeling of getting away from it all, of peace and tranquility can reset your mind to where it is supposed to be.

The team at RedSands Campers has many favourite locations around Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Our campers can transport you there. In the meantime, this blog can take your mind there.....

Private beaches

Who would say no to their own private section of beach? Sounds like something reserved for a celebrity or person with money to burn, right? Not in Australia. Just imagine, standing on the edge of the Indian Ocean and the warm breeze sweeps past your skin. You are standing in water so crystal clear and calm you can see the fish flash past your toes.  You look to the east and see rugged red ranges that contrast against the lilac sky at sunset. It sends a shiver down your spine. A turtle swims past and sticks its head up to see what is happening above the surface. It spots you and quickly ducks away before you have a chance to tell anyone else it is there. All this is yours when you stay at Ningaloo Station on Australia’s Coral Coast. The only way to access this location is via a reliable and well equipped 4WD. 

Deep gorges that dive into the earth 

Feel like a hike? Ready for adventure and awe? Come with me....you turn off the sealed road onto a red track. The surrounding scrub is golden, yet green and the knotted trees with their white trunks offer shade and respite to the unique wildlife that have adapted to this landscape. You park your camper and start to make your way down the path and the earth appears to open up, to reveal its inner secrets. Red cliffs shoot down into the earth and you marvel at their layers and earthly colours. As you continue your hike you notice an oasis of running water, spectacular waterfalls, ferns, gumtrees, bats and birds. At the end of your short trek you come across Fern Pool, Karijini. This place is spiritual to Aboriginal People and it is easy to understand why. This place is best experienced very early in the morning, before the crowds. It is a quiet sanctuary like no other. Trust us, the early morning is worth it when you have this place all to yourself.

World Heritage 

Undeniably one of the most amazing places on the planet lies in the Kimberley Region - ok, well perhaps quite a few are found here. This one is a little bit special and this description won't do it justice, but let us try.... you wake before dawn (with the help of some cheeky and noisy cockatoos) and make your way to the nearest church (huh? Let me finish). You are the first to arrive at the car park and follow the path that winds through spectacular beehive formations to this spiritual place. The sight stops you dead in your tracks. You feel overwhelmed. Mother Nature is an amazing artist and gave special attention to Cathedral Gorge, Purnululu. This place is so ancient it makes you realise how tiny a blip our lives are in the context of this world. They say you should enjoy every minute you have on this planet. We are sure you will want to stay here a while to enjoy quite a few of those minutes.

Not just any camper

The only way to get to some of our favourite places is a 4WD. We have camped for many years, visiting all of these places many times. It doesn’t mean we have ‘done it rough’ though. You just need to have the right equipment and be prepared, and camping turns into the most relaxing holiday you've had.

There are not too many campers that come as well equipped as a RedSands Camper. Our fleet of Toyota 4WDs are designed to be easy to use, quick to set up and have all the comforts to make your trip a pleasurable and memorable experience. If you would like help planning your itinerary, please let us know. We are always happy to help our clients get the most out of their Australian experience.