Mrs Poppa's Big Trip - Poppa is Guide


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The day has arrived. Soon to depart for an adventure that Mrs Poppa chose when asked her preference for a big adventure. I offered Tasmania, New Zealand, USA, Europe (specifically Spain and Italy). The lady chose "head north through "your country" (meaning the Gulf Country where I head yearly for a bit of Barra fishing) and then through the Kimberley.

Gotta admit, I'm a lucky man. However that might suffer a bit of a hit there - there was a condition - no boat. Can't really complain though.

The Cruiser required a couple of packs - not being used to the new tray caused a bit of concern and confusion initially. It seems OK now but no doubt will be changed many times over the next couple of weeks. Moral of the story, don't get major stuff just before leaving on a big trip! But we all know that don't we!

The plan is Cowra tonight, Lightning Ridge, back of QLD (probably a little town called Capella), Kynuna and then Lawn Hill, Seven Emus Station, Borroloola, Katherine. A bit of luxury at Katherine and an opportunity to recharge our batteries.

That is the first leg of the adventure. If you see the Cruiser pulled over on the road or in a town somewhere don't be shy. Come over and have a yarn.

Wish us luck! I hope to update this report when the opportunity presents.


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Mesmerised is an appropriate word for the last couple of days. Yeah, a bit boring heading up the Hume Freeway to the Cowra turnoff but after that - wow. I've done the part to Cowra before and have always enjoyed it. After Cowra, it gets interesting. We loved the lush, green valleys, the rolling hills and get this, the architecture of some of the country residences throughout the path we took through Cowra, Canowandra and through to Dubbo.

Sorry you blokes, but Dubbo is not exciting. Glad to get through it. Driving up through Coonamble and onto Lightning Ridge, I thought most people would not give this journey a second thought but it is a trip worth undertaking. Scenery is worth it.

Lightning Ridge, yeah OK. Next morning was sombre for a good part. Not many words spoken in the Cruiser. It was akin to driving through the Apocalypse-Zombie era. Roadkill and then some. Desolate, water starved landscaped. Kilometre after kilometre of rotting carcasses. Hard country and even harder men and women making a living from this landscape.

Into QLD and the landscape changes constantly. An oasis is St George. What a beautiful and friendly town!

Durrandandi! I live in Albury which is in close proximity to Beechworth and the famed Beechworth Bakery. You blokes and sheilas - there is no bakery like the Durrandandi Bakery! Classic and in a small outback town! Go there!

We can't get over the countryside through Roma and afterwards. Here we are travelling thousands of kilometres to see magnificent sights and yet hour after hour we saw more than we expected. And got more than expected.

Pulling up for fuel or coffee always found us greeted with a "G'day, where you heading" and so. Each stop saw us leaving with a smile. Good people, outback Queenslanders.

No photos and I deserved to be kicked for that. Although my camera is not up to what some of you blokes would have but I reckon the trip deserves some photos so let's see how I go with that.

A couple of days into the trip and I am mesmerised - once again - with the wonderful country we live in. A wonderful country made all the more wonderful by the people we meet.

The hubs haven't been locked in yet but we are not complaining.


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I did the exact route a few months ago. Agree with you that the bakery at Dirribandi is fabulous. Is the ginger bread houses still displayed at the door? I highly recommend going to Winton via Carnarvon Gorge national park. I camped at Mount Moffat, less popular, but equally beautiful. Safe travels!


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I hear you Poppa, that is a great drive up through those outback towns. Sounds like a great trip. My young bloke is fishing up at Darwin at the moment, seeing his pics and reading your trip report wants me to head north again



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Arrived home about a week ago. I reckon you know (as if you need to be told) how good a trip has been by the feelings you have as pull into your driveway. Marie and I were both sad, flat and basically "let-down". The Lady said: I could re-stock, chuck out the stuff we didn't use or need and leave tomorrow morning and do exactly the same trip.

Well onwards with the report. I don't keep notes during the trip because I'm too busy enjoying the moment, so a lot of report will be from memory.

Stayed overnight in Emerald. Just shows how little I (possibly you too) know about our country. I had no idea of the size of Emerald, it really is a bustling centre. Leaving Emerald and heading to Longreach we were once again treated to amazing scenes ("amazing scenes/landscapes") will be used quite frequently throughout my reports I reckon).

I decided I would actually stop at some of the look-out points rather than driving past (as usual).
IMG_1251.JPG Not far from Emerald, looking back at the country we had just driven through.
We had every intention of making Kynuna that night so we didn't dawdle.

IMG_1258.JPG Went through a small town (yeah I know - I can't remember the name of the town) but it had a heap of farm machinery and vehicles on display in the main drag. I spent too much time there checking it all out. And as I type this I realised this town was before Kynuna. (Poppa - you should have kept notes!!)
Love Burke and Wills Roadhouse. A recent edition of the Outback Magazine recently had a story on it. A young local couple have bought it and let me share, they are doing a bloody good job. Food is great and the general "feel" of it is very welcoming. Had a good time talking to other travellers outside on the verandah.

Next stop Adel's Grove.


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Adel's Grove was hit with a fire recently and as a result the campground is limited in numbers they can take in. It is also a very busy worksite with tradies everywhere.

We camped among the trees on the river bank and if ever you get the chance to camp at the Grove take the option among the trees. It is nature's air-conditioned room. And calm, very calm. Loved it.

We took the easy option and booked in for the evening meal at the "restaurant". Bloody glad we did. We were seated with other guests - about 10 to a table - what a great concept. Met all sorts and heard some great stories.

We booked a tour up the Gorge. Great fun, great scenery but it did confirm to both of us why we don't do tours. People rushing for the "best" seat and pushing others out of the way and then standing ….. you get the idea. It was the only tour we took on the whole trip.
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The trip takes a turn and the itinerary changes. Not much joy for Poppa but I stay true to my word that this trip is Marie's Trip.

After two nights at Adel's Grove we take the easy option and head towards Barkly Roadhouse and onto Katherine rather than along the Savannah Way to Seven Emus Station.


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I always look forward to staying at the Barkly Roadhouse as it is just one of those places with "atmosphere". It may be the location as it really is the "gateway" for my Barra Fishing trips on the Gulf. Anyway, a big disappointment this time. Some low-life tried to break into the Cruiser. The cost of getting the new cage and lock-up box just paid for itself!

Into Katherine to replenish refreshments and catch up on washing and stuff. It was an easy time but the Kimberley was beckoning and we were wearing big smiles as drove towards the WA Border.

Now, we were heading towards a place that I was more than a little interested in. For years I have read countless stories on the wonders of Barra fishing at Timber Creek and surrounding areas. Local lass, Tania Kernaghan, also recorded a song about Timber Creek - just a big of trivia that you probably didn't need.

Pulled into the camp ground/boat ramp at Dead Horse Creek and wasn't disappointed. Nah, not true. I was disappointed, I didn't have my boat!!

Green with envy I watched a boat heading back towards the ramp but the blokes on the boat must have seen my face and they gunned the motor and went straight past the ramp. Bastards, but I hope they caught a big barra.

We were like little kids on Christmas morning as we watched the scenery change. Surely this was the Kimberley or second thoughts, is this area God's special playground.
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Top left - the road into the Kimberley!!
Top right - just past the Victoria River roadhouse is parking area which is the starting point to climbing the escarpment for a better view. Better view? It doesn't get much better than this. Unfortunately, Marie opted out of making the climb to the top. Poppa's old knees creaked and moaned but made it!
Bottom left - the Victoria!
Bottom right - a bloody poor attempt of my camera skills
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IMG_1302.JPG Top left and top right - the view! That is Victoria Station on the right.
Bottom left - I made the effort to stop and take the photo so it makes it into 4X4 Earth! It really was spectacular though. Rugged, raw and timeless.

Next chapter in our journey - the Gibb River Road. I'm chomping at the bit. At this point of time, I'm thinking: Crikey, how am I going to write this up in 4X4 Earth. Bloody hell, the Cruiser must be thinking - get me a real driver who will use me for what I was built for - and I'm thinking: Get stuffed, I took you across Ivanhoe crossing and there were some corrugations and potholes going into Adel's Grove.

But the mighty Gibb River Road is looming ahead and I console myself with memories of the stories that write up the GRR as an iconic, tough trip.

And the scenery. The scenery. The vastness, absolute vastness. We truly are the lucky country.


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I gaze into my crystal ball, ..... it starts with a B?

It was starting to play on me, trying to recall the name of the town. I reckon you were very close, very close. The town I took the photo in was Ilfracombe.

Barcaldine has a fair bit of stuff going on in it's main drag too, so I can why your crystal ball gave up Barcaldine.


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The town I took the photo in was Ilfracombe.
Thats the one Ilfracombe ....... bloody crystal ball, it's always that far off with the lotto numbers, too!!

I was 14y/o the first time I set foot on the ground at Ilfracombe, it was december, and I was only off the bus for 14seconds in bare feet.:cool:


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Kununurra is looming on the horizon and the anticipation is building. Really, we were like a pair of kids, yapping away - Wow, just look at that - Geez, that is fantastic - Un-bloody-believable...…… you get the drift. As I said, a pair of kids.

Kununurra surprised us. We checked out the accommodation we had previously booked and we were disappointed, so a change was made. I hope I'm allowed to give a shout-out for a business - Hidden Valley Caravan Park/Resort (These establishments all seem to call themselves "Resorts" these days) was fantastic.

We had booked a fishing charter with a local guide along with two nights camping on the property. The bloke concerned is not the legend he thinks he is, rather, he is a has-been. Enough said

Driving across Ivanhoe Crossing tested Marie. It was probably the first water crossing (other than a few very shallow creeks in the VHC) she had ever done. Happy to say she loved the crossing on the return trip.

We were sorry to leave Kununurra but the Gibb River Road beckoned. Checked out Emma Gorge and moved onto Home Valley.

On the way though the biggest disappointment (well maybe not the biggest) of the trip. The Pentecost River crossing had no water in it! Yep, no bloody water. I was … well at 9am or thereabouts after making the dry crossing I cracked a beer to wash away my disappointment. Crikey, doesn't every traveller want a photo of their vehicle making that "Epic Crossing".
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As above, no bloody water over the crossing. There was water a short walk downstream, beer also!

Home Valley. Marie was ecstatic, she works hard in a very stressful job and I reckoned I could actually see the stress falling away during our three night stay. I headed down to the river for a spot of fishing, no fish but I didn't care. Check out the photos, I felt "honoured" to be fishing in such beauty. Yep, honoured.

I bet a 4WD Tour Guide down there and we foolishly walked out onto the mudflat (low tide) to get our lures out a little further. After a while we both agreed the hair on the back of the neck was standing up. Didn't see a croc and thankful for it. Yeah, go on, yes I know. I should know better. Yep I'm a dumbass for doing what I did and you would never, ever do it. OK I hope that is out of the way.

Convincing Marie to pack-up to leave Home Valley was a task but we were on our way again. IMG_1351.JPG IMG_1358.JPG
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The GRR wasn't too bad. A few comments from blokes back at Home Valley made me think opinions of roads is a very individual thing. Although I reckon what a bloke does with his tyres and his speedo has a great influence on his "opinion". Must be a lot of codgers who don't know about letting air out.

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The GRR above. I nearly forgot to put this little gem of a photo. Doesn't mean anything to you fellas but a helluva a lot to me. First beer my wife has had for over 30 years. She used to drink beer with the best of them when I first met her in the Southern Cross Hotel in Broken Hill. Like I said, Home Valley. The stress fell away.

I was pissing myself with excitement as I turned the Cruiser onto the road to the coast. Kalumburu was waiting.

Disaster struck at Drysdale.

After a great night at Drysdale. A tip - book into the bar/restaurant for the evening meal. It was as near a home-cooked meal that you will ever get on the road. Bloody beautiful!

Disaster. Marie didn't want to tackle the road to the coast, as per earlier in our trip. I'm not being fair to you, the reader, here. There were mitigating circumstances in this regard which I reckon this is not the time nor place to expand on. I know (and hear) some crying over "lost opportunities" in the options we took. What the heck, we were having a ball.

Back to the road. The gorges now seemed to never end. God, thank you ever so much for Manning Gorge. I swam and swam. Lazed about in the water and then went for a swim again. First thing in the morning, yep, into that water again. We had taken the time to go back onto the GRR to get firewood (not allowed to collect it in the park). Pity others didn't do the same. Shits me that.

Met up with other travellers we had previously met at Home Valley. In fact, I spent a bit of time under a bloke's ute. The road takes a toll doesn't it.

We took ample opportunity in turning off the road to just "check out that" or "let's have a look from there" or "want to see what's around there". Didn't seem to have much trouble with flies, that would change later.
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Bloody hell, I didn't take photos of Manning Gorge. Bell Gorge above along with the Roadhouse run by locals, bought an ice-cream there but unfortunately the local art centre was closed.

Ventured onto Silent Grove and Bell Gorge as above.
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Galvan's Gorge was dry but worth the short walk in, even if just to stretch the legs. Let me mention Silent Grove. Stop there and allow an extra night because it is worth it. The Ranger is a top bloke and Bell's Gorge was a favorite. The walk in will test you, well the climb down tested us.

Marie is not comfortable with heights and the climb down really was a test. We must have looked like a real pair of Old Farts because a young bloke rushed "guided" us down. Thanks mate.

Once again I hit the water and loved it. The climb out, we went OK. Have to say, we would and will do it again. But, that beer was bloody good when I pulled up back at camp!!!

Next stop, Derby.
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Just read my report above and reckoned I should add something. It sounds as though my beautiful wife was not willing to undertake the more isolated parts of the trip. Marie was more concerned for me and us, I suppose.

I am classified as Totally and Permanently Disabled so her concerns were for me not herself. Me? I was not concerned but it was Marie's Trip and whatever she said/wanted I made sure happened.