After an extended stay in Broome relaxing at the resort, it was great to be on the road again – with new shocks installed. The drive to 80 Mile Beach, our first camp on the path into the Pilbara and to Karlamilyi was uneventful and not too scenic.
We arrived in time to see the sun setting and admire the beautiful long, wide beach. The tide rises so quickly on this vast beach that we could actually watch the water steadily creeping up the beach. It was like one continuous wave coming in at a slow walking pace.
The beach was covered in shells, some ornate. At the high tide mark a line of flat shells was painted across the landscape. It crunched under our feet as we walked. It was not the place to swim though as the fine sand makes the water super murky.
From here we headed inland through Nullagine, a small town with a servo, pub, corner store and two playgrounds. We were soon driving through amazing Pilbara landscapes – rich red soil and yellow spinifex with the odd white and green gum tree. From Nullagine, we turned off to head east on the road less travelled, Skull Springs Road in this case, towards Karlamilyi National Park. Although this park is the largest in Western Australia it is also one of the most remote meaning it would be another two full days driving before we arrived.
The next camp was at Running Waters Waterhole, a lovely campsite by a stunning river nestled amongst the trees just a few kilometres off the road. The sites close to the river were a little rocky so we camped further away and walked in for our swim and fish the next morning.
Izzy had a ball on the rope swing and we caught our first fish. OK, it was too small to eat but very exciting all the same. The river was deep and there were so many fish you could see them jumping out of the water.
On our way out of camp we discovered an amazing kangaroo sculpture on top of a jump up. A few of us chose to have a closer look and experienced the prickly spinifex and loose rocks as we scrambled up the side of the jump up.
We had planned to take one road into Karlamilyi, which would have continued directly east from Skull Springs Road into the park, but we discovered it was closed to the public so we had to take a longer route along Telfer Road, which took us past Carawine Gorge. Andrew actually has a painting of Carawine Gorge at work so it was wonderful to see the impressive rock face in person but we were glad not to camp here as it was very exposed and windy.
It was here we also got bogged for the first time that day. Before the day was out we had got bogged one more time and John and Kaye once also. The track south from Telfer Road was good fun and sandy in spots and one spot was particularly soft. We got bogged first but lots of digging from everyone and letting the tyres right down to 15PSI got us out. But that only made room for Kaye and John to get bogged in exactly the same spot. It was already getting dark and it made a long day even longer. However the experience meant we got to use all four Maxtrax, both shovels and many hands to get the Landcruiser out. But in doing so we also dug up some amazing desert frogs buried in the sand.
All this adventure meant we arrived into camp at Karlamilyi very late. We had contemplated camping short of our destination but as the next day was Matthew’s birthday, and we had promised him a day without driving, we decided to keep to the plan. The gnarled burnt trees on the side of the track into the camp were extremely spooky at this time of night. We set up camp at Desert Queen Baths camp tired and oblivious to the stunning surroundings we would wake up to in the morning.