On our way from Broome to Darwin, we decided to embark on some new stopovers and finally do some touristy things! We were planning to spend a couple of nights at the Bungle Bungle bush camp, located between Fitzroy crossing and Kununurra, from where you can venture out to see the Bungle Bungle mountain range and gorges. The last powered site was snapped up just before our arrival, leaving us with no aircon for the next few days.
Featured Image(above): Cooling down at the creek
As I am a very generous being, I volunteered to stay behind making sure the guinea pig wouldn’t die of heat stroke. This also meant that I would miss out on being shaken to the core on a two hour, 50 km corrugated trip on a very bumpy dirt road… However, I agreed to hop into the Dodge for a twenty-minute trial run to check out the first river crossing. When we finally found a spot to pull over, losing our thongs in the mud while walking the last few meters, we were confronted with a vision that left us speechless…
The river bank was littered with half-buried car parts accompanied by people, who were forcefully camping out on the side of the river because their car did not make it past that first hurdle. (never mind all the others) It turned out that up to five cars can get stranded there daily!!! Some even left behind for good, as occasionally insurance companies refuse to pay for the towing and often it’s the young backpackers that run out of options and money! Nevertheless, Richard and Ginger were on a mission and took off early the next day, equipped with food, water, jackets, blankets and even pens and paper – just in case they got stuck, I thought.
Loo with a view
Later I was told that Ginger was disappointed they made it through the first creek without a hitch… However adventure soon caught up with them and the car started spitting water, making noises and running hot! Richard with the ‘shiny black impressive Dodge’ was at a loss and decided that they had to turn around, luckily making it back through the deep water, before they came to a standstill on the other side of the creek. Ginger sprang right into action, handing out progress notes to passing vehicles so they could drop them off for Mummy at the caravan park, while Richard tried to work out what was wrong with the masterpiece of a car.
Multiple passers-by stopped to offer help and to take the ‘ note in a bottle ‘ …. and then out of nowhere a car approached and a voice said: ‘Are you Richard who studied at Townsville?’ Turned out it was one of Richard’s old house and study mates who now lent a helping hand filling up the car with water every few minutes, enabling the Dodge to crawl back to camp. It took us three days to finally get the huge Dodge loaded onto a big enough truck, which towed it to a mechanic at Kununurra.
Turned out to be a worn out water pump spitting the dummy, with a replacement being flown in from who knows where!! Richard was positive as always, telling Ginger that it’s not the car but just a part of it, to which Ginger replied – ‘Yes Daddy but the car is totally made out of parts!‘ Once again our Dodge the Show Pony was in the bad books! To top it off Richard was supposed to be back at work in Brisbane, which had to be postponed as we ended up being stranded for nearly two weeks!! This meant serious rationing of our food, sharing just an egg, one tomato and crisps for each lunch, as there was just a little office fridge at the van park, selling ice creams, Cola and crisps only. We also run out of juice and bottled water, forced to stick to the brown water that came out of the tap.
Never mind that this water was not good enough to clean the Dodge as Richard mentioned earlier… However, we loooved the reinforced relaxation, going for morning exploratory walks and taking a dip in the creek at sunset. Originally the plan was only to stay a couple of nights and therefore we parked the rig under some trees…But now that we were there for nearly two weeks, we desperately needed some solar power…but we could not move the van as we had no car!!!
Ginger’s break down notes to mum
With hardly any power, no aircon, no TV, no charging, and only a couple of dim lights at night, we were very fond of our functioning fridge on gas protecting our valuable rations from going off…and then…you guessed it?? The fridge died… With all those circumstances the only place where Richard was able to get his work done and phone and computers charged was at the communal tent, where we spent the hottest part of the day, setting up a large table as our office and putting the guinea pig on ice when it got to an unbearable 43 degrees.
Firepit and office tent
In comparison, our nightly routine, when the temperatures plummeted, included a trip to the communal fire pit after our ‘dinner’. There the latest arrivals returning from the Bungle Bungles were sharing their experiences, especially how their car made it…or not… One day even a bus tour from Darwin was stranded, eating ice cream and crisps for a whole day… those buses, are more like tanks than conventional buses and partly to blame for the condition of the road, we were told.
Dodge on a tow truck
But Richard was so peeved with the Dodge breaking down, that he refused to pay $300 per person to go on a bus trip, which meant that Ginger and Richard actually never saw the Bungle Bungles… However, not all was doom and gloom, dusty and hot, as luckily we were close to the amenities, which had no roof… but against all odds, I grew fond of the loo with a view! Here I do need to mention the most obliging, helpful caravan park staff who in the end let us use their tiny office fridge, offered me a job, and tried to get a free seat for Richard and Ginger on the bus (which was booked out).
First river crossing
And Yayyyy they also brought us the news that the Dodge was fixed! But we were not happy! We did not want to leave!!! We had found the outback vibe!!! We grew so fond of the place, even the harsh conditions, the rationed food and the loo with a view that we had to stay just one more night! Our last chance to stare at the starry sky, while philosophising around the fire pit, over why we always seem to want more, when in reality less brings more happiness. But all good things have to come to an end, and if the Dodge is willing, then we will be embarking to Kununurra in the next episode of The Long Way Round To Bribie!