This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels September 13

THURSDAY 13 SEPTEMBER     EIGHTY MILE BEACH

M and John fished, in the morning.

I went to the beach and made a video of them fishing, near high tide, on the beach crowded with other fisherfolk.

Baiting the hooks – and being careful not to stand on one….

John caught a small shark.

For lunch, I turned some of the shark into fish burgers – like the ones I had to make when working at the cafe at Litchfield, last year. But there we used Nile perch, pre-cooked and frozen. The shark from here was much nicer!

Got talking to a lady from a fifth wheeler rig, parked next to us. Turned out that she had a birthday lunch, back in July, at that cafe. From what she told us, it sounded like nothing had really changed there. I did wonder if the men had found any cooks who would stay for any length of time?


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2007 Travels September 12

WEDNESDAY 12 SEPTEMBER     EIGHTY MILE BEACH

There was a resident butcher bird, who sat and carolled superbly, for about 30 minutes at a time, right above our van. Pre-dawn – like about 5am! But it was a beautiful song and a lovely way to wake up – if one must…..

The cabin section of the caravan park

M and John fished and caught a meal’s worth. I was hoping to be able to put a couple of fish packs into the freezer, to use on the trip home.

I walked on the beach – there were not so many fishers on it this morning.

Some nights there was a really heavy dew that sounded like rain on the roof, from the trees dripping!  The drips were really sticky and salty, too.

Cleaning the catch at the very functional fish cleaning station – running water and all……


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2007 Travels September 11

TUESDAY 11 SEPTEMBER     EIGHTY MILE BEACH

M and John went fishing, in the morning.

I went down to walk along the beach, while they were thus occupied, but there were so many people fishing that it was an obstacle course, so I did not go far.

Not quite the same ambience as walking on a deserted beach….

So, I went back to join the fishers, but John had rigged up my rod so he could try some spinning with it, while his rod was in use for normal fishing with bait. So I gave up on that idea.

I walked around the quite extensive park for half an hour, looking at other rigs. Then did some washing – by hand, in the laundry – as there was not really enough to justify a full machine load.

Sat outside the van, under the whispering she-oaks, did some beading, then read.

After John came back from fishing, with some salmon for tonight’s tea, he sat in the van and played computer games for the rest of the day.

M and I went for a beach walk, in the afternoon, when the beach was mostly clear of fishers. She had decided she would leave here and go her own way when our week is up, on Friday. She was not attracted by the idea of sitting around for days in places like Ceduna or Port Augusta, because of football. We discussed the various options she had for things to do, when she does leave. She had lots of interesting possibilities – not being dictated to by either football or TV!

Pied oystercatcher


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2007 Travels September 10

MONDAY 10 SEPTEMBER     EIGHTY MILE BEACH

I walked on the beach first thing in the morning.

High tide was happening during the mornings and this seemed to be the time to fish. In the afternoons, the water was too far out, and it was dark by the time it really came close enough.

It was a bit windy today and no one was catching any fish.

Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park (Google)

John had now decided that he wanted to be able to watch ALL the AFL football finals on TV, so he wanted our timing of home travel legs to enable that, by being where there was a good TV signal whenever there was a match. He indicated he was now finding the trip boring, and wanted to be able to do what really interested him – watch TV! This would really constrain what we could do and where we could still go, as well as limiting the remaining time we could spend here. To me, that was a real pity.


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2007 Travels September 9

SUNDAY 9 SEPTEMBER     EIGHTY MILE BEACH

I walked on the beach, again, for a couple of hours in the morning. Starting the day this way is akin to meditation, I find.

M and John went down to fish, in the early afternoon. The tide was a long way out. They went right out – to the mud section – and caught some catfish. These were despatched right back to where they came from!

I sat back to wait for the tide to come to me, but got bitten by sandflies, so retired back to camp.

The other two eventually caught some salmon.

John watched football on TV.


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2007 Travels September 8

SATURDAY 8 SEPTEMBER     EIGHTY MILE BEACH

I was up fairly early – before either of the others – and went for a walk along the beach, for nearly an hour and a half.

This is always a great beach for walking – level, firm sand, little waves breaking – when the tide is far enough in for them to be seen! There is always something of interest – shells, marine life, birds. It does not have the fascinating rock formations of Barn Hill, though, the beach just being backed by low dunes.

Low dunes behind the beach

This was very much a “fishy” place. One could usually catch themselves a number of fish dinners, from the beach. There were always people trying their luck, and if the fish were really biting, it could be just about shoulder-to-shoulder fishing people lined up along the beach. Threadfin salmon seemed to be the most commonly caught fish. I really like these to eat and consider them much nicer than barramundi.

After lunch, M and John went down to the beach to fish. I joined them later. John and I both caught a salmon each – which provided enough for tea for the three of us.

The park has provided – very sensibly – a most useful fish cleaning station, by the path from the beach.

I cooked our fish for tea, while John went and bought chips for us, from the take away section of the store. Very convenient place that.

Cooking fish outside van (old board to protect van from spatters)

Some people come here every year, for three or four months, and seem to spend their time relaxing – and doing a lot of fishing. A few, with limited mobility, even bring beach quad bike things, to give themselves access to a greater length of the coast. The caravan park facilities are really well set up for both short and long term visitors.

John watched AFL football on TV at night. He stated that he really wanted to watch the Brownlow Medal count, to be televised on 24 September, incidentally his birthday. OK – my rough travel plan had us taking our time across the Nullarbor, for once,  but I could adjust it to be somewhere with decent TV that night. Maybe Ceduna?


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2007 Travels September 7

FRIDAY 7 SEPTEMBER     BARN HILL TO EIGHTY MILE BEACH   260kms

Departure was easy and routine – we were already hooked up from the relocation of the other day. I was sad to leave Barn Hill – hoped I would be back.

The track back to the highway had some burnt sections where the fires had crossed it. There were also recently burnt sections beside the highway, on both sides of the road, and smoke from some still active fire sections.

We had only some 240kms to go today – an easy move.

Sandfire Roadhouse – 323 kms south of Broome, and not far from Eighty Mile Beach – was still serving fuel, even though the buildings had been burnt out in a fire at Easter, caused apparently, by an electrical fault. We needed to refuel there, despite it being very expensive, at $1.63 cpl.

I had a long standing grudge against this Roadhouse, since the time in 1993, when we stopped in there to get fuel and lunch, after leaving Marble Bar and driving through deluging rain and floods. We were charged $28 for a basic hamburger, a round of cheese sandwiches, and two cans of Coke. There had been no prices on display so that came as a shock. At the time, that was equivalent to caravan park fees for two nights, so I wished all sorts of bad things to befall the place……

The 9km track into Eighty Mile Beach was decidedly corrugated.

The caravan park was much as I had remembered it from previous visits, the most recent less than a year ago. Since then, cyclones had crossed parts of the Pilbara coast. If one looked closely, a few signs of these were evident, but the place was mostly unscathed.

John wanted to stay here for at least a week, so we paid for a week, at $27.50 a night, powered.

We were allocated a very nice site – one of the drive-through ones, tucked in between she oaks. The little central “park” area was in front of us and we were not far from the amenities. M was on a nearby site.

John was happy – through the park’s re-broadcast system, he could get three TV channels, quite clearly. I was sure that the prospect of better fishing, and TV was behind his wish to leave Barn Hill for here.

The park’s shop was better stocked than I expected, given that it was getting quite late in the tourist season. They had a fair range of groceries and frozen foods, fishing bait, tourist souvenir items, magazines, fishing gear.

We took our time getting set up for a comfortable stay.

Site at Eighty Mile Beach

John decided not to start fishing until tomorrow, but the three of us went for a long, afternoon walk along the beach, instead.

There was the usual array of people fishing from the sand, with the occasional quad bike giving mobility along the beach to an elderly fisherman.

Tide on the way in – fish too!

Also as usual, there were lots of shells washed up on the sand. I had been tempted by shell collection here, on previous visits, and was determined, this time, to only pick up something if it was really unusual.

In the late afternoon, we took a vantage point in the dunes behind the beach, to watch the sun set – always wonderful, here. However, this time it had been upstaged by the unusual and brilliant sunsets we had seen at smoky Barn Hill.


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2007 Travels September 6

THURSDAY 6 SEPTEMBER     BARN HILL

In the morning, we were informed that the fire risk here had passed. There was still evident smoke, but it seemed more wispy.

A couple of days ago we had thought of staying longer here. It was so relaxed – well, before the fire drama – and plain enjoyable. But now John wanted to move on tomorrow. A pity – I really would have liked some more time here, especially as circumstances improved.

We did not move back to the cliff top area, although others went back there. John had decided he liked the power on – easier than being out there and having to watch the power use.

A few campers had moved back to the cliff top

Had a look at the layout in the Bendigo lady’s camper van, which was like a largish commercial van. It seemed to be a very practical layout for a single person, but I thought it would be too “cosy” for two.

Did some bowling.

Had our last walk on the beach. It looked different without the backdrop of smoke that had been there for most of our stay.

Spent some time exploring some of the rock pool areas to be found where the rocky sections intruded onto the sand.

The outflow from a rock pool replicated river delta formation

It was really pleasant to be able to beach walk without the really heavy smoke around. There was still some smell of smoke about, but it was much lighter than on the previous days.

John found more birds to photograph.

Barn Hill was one of those places that gives a seventh night free for a week’s stay, so that was it for us. Very reasonable, I thought, considering what was here – pleasant areas to stay, roofed communal gathering/eating area, bowling green…..They also did meals a couple of nights a week – for a very reasonable charge. One was a pizza night, another a roast dinner. We did not buy into either of those, so could not comment on quality or quantity.


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2007 Travels September 5

WEDNESDAY 5 SEPTEMBER     BARN HILL

Despite yesterday’s reassurances, the fire to the north and east was now causing concern.

There was no possibility of anyone leaving now.

All us rigs camped along the cliff tops were asked to move from that area to the grassed, powered central area – as it would be easier to defend! Hmmm….

Fire beyond the deserted cliff top camps

So we packed up camp and relocated to the rather crowded grass camp area, finding a place where we could keep the van and Truck hitched up. M was nearby. We were told we could hook into power – at no extra charge. That was a nice touch. But we were not to try to use anything that drew much current – I guess they had more rigs than usual hooked up to the system. We did not put up the awning.

In the powered camp area

Many campers filled water containers and had them at the ready. This was feeling rather too serious. There was an air of tension and worry now.

M had containers of water on standby….

Then the Fire Service helicopter flew in again and landed on the grassed area by the camp kitchen. The fire person  said he still thought we would be alright, here. He said the fires were cutting the access track out, so there was nowhere to go, anyway.

The fires burnt in the middle distance, all day. It was quite smoky.

Hoses all connected up…….little groups of concerned campers

For something to distract us, played bowls, in the afternoon. Nero fiddled while Rome burned; we bowled while Barn Hill burned…..

Nero fiddled……we bowled (and they talk about plumbers’ crack!)

We were joined on the green by a solo lady traveller, who hailed from Bendigo, in Victoria. She was exploring, in loose tandem, with another single lady. They both had camper vans.

I decided to walk back across to the ablutions block in the unpowered area – quite a distance away – for my afternoon shower. No one else seemed to be bothered to make the trek over there, even though the block in the campground was a bit too small for the numbers packed in here now.

I came out of the shower, and a snake that had just come out from under a nearby bush, did a fast u-turn and retreated back into the scrub. I didn’t know what type it was – only had the impression that it was a grey-green colour. Not sure which of us got the bigger fright.

Bendigo lady and her friend joined us for happy hour drinks. I put together some dry biscuits and cheese, for nibbles, and she brought across a plate of Chilly Philly cheese and biscuits. A very pleasant interlude, with much travel talk, including speculation about when the roads out of here might be safe to travel again.


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2007 Travels September 4

TUESDAY 4 SEPTEMBER     BARN HILL

In the morning, it was very smoky.

Some travellers left quite early, including another Trakmaster that had been here. They told us they did not want to risk their van by staying. We actually thought that leaving could be more of a risk, as there seemed to be considerable doubt about the place, over the exact fire locations, in relation to the track out of here and the Highway. I thought that people leaving ran the risk of being caught between different arms of the fires.

That fire front was extensive….

Late morning the distant sounds of helicopters became closer, then a Fire Service helicopter appeared low from the east, and landed at the perimeter of the camp ground. We were immediately apprehensive that this meant an immediate evacuation order. Instead, the fire person said we were all ok here. That was reassuring. Some visitors asked if they were better off leaving, but he simply reiterated that it was safe here. I guessed they had to be a bit careful what advice they gave.

We did a walk on the beach, but mostly stayed around camp. It was too hot and smoky to spend too long on the beach. The constant smoke we were breathing was giving us all slightly sore throats.

This rock formation was reminiscent of a beached ship….

John did some more camera experimenting as we walked. He was happy with the results he was getting.

I spent some time downloading photos onto the laptop, and sorting and naming them.

At night, the fires seemed much closer…..

Seeing this at bedtime was not conducive to a sound night’s sleep!