a camping trip of ridiculous proportions

empress springs descending ladder


Back On The Road

Apart from the occasional short trip out of Perth, recently we’ve had a serious shortage of camping missions and outback exploring. The blame lies solely with our participation in the rat race. Fortunately this situation has been corrected and we’re back on the road for some proper long term travel around oz.

This time round we’ve made some improvements to our setup. I’m not going to list them all here, but the main change is to our solar panel arrangement, making it lighter, simpler, more aerodynamic and easier to deploy. Oh and our two person team has expanded to three.

hilux with new solar panels

Our hilux  keeping beer cold with the new solar panel setup.

new team

The new three person team.

We’re a bit behind on the blog and have already made it to Broome. This post covers from Perth to the WA border via Great Central Road.

Our route has taken us to Kalgoorlie, Menzies, the Lake Ballard sculptures, Kookynie, Leonora, Laverton and onto the corrugations of the Great Central Road. On the way we found some bush banana. Tastes like peas.

bush banana prep bush banana

We detoured off Great Central Road, heading north on David Carnegie Road to visit Empress Spring. This spring saved the lives of David Carnegie and his party whilst exploring the Gibson and Great Sandy deserts a few years ago. They were out of water and nearly dead, so captured an aborigine, fed him salted beef and held him hostage until he led them to a water supply.

empress spring descending ladder empress spring

After a night at Empress Spring the plan was to continue north on David Carnegie Road and then traverse the Gunbarrel Highway across to Warburton where we’d rejoin the Great Central Road. We made it easily to Empress Spring and then a further 100km north but our efforts were thwarted by some deep washouts on the track. With only modest ground clearance, the washouts were pushing the limits on our vehicle’s capability. Falling into a big rut could have us stranded since we were travelling alone with no other vehicles to assist in recovery. I believed that with some minor reshaping of the track with a shovel there was a better than 50% chance of making it through, and if not we had plenty of food, water and beer on board. Sharni on the other hand chickened out and ordered an immediate u-turn.

david carnegie road ruts

Although it doesn’t look it on the photo, these ruts were probably half a meter deep.

So it was back south down the slow, rutted and spinifex laden track where we again picked up the Great Central Road from where we left it a few days before.

david carnegie road spinifex

Continuing east towards the WA border was uneventful apart from the ongoing corrugations. One of the hilux badges fell off our car and the CB radio antenna broke off (this is the second time we’ve had this happen). Here’s a few more photos of the trip up to Lasseters Cave just inside the Northern Territory Border. From here we continue to Uluru and beyond.

trout fishing warren river


Warren River First Trout!

After years of demoralising failure, finally, Hong and I have caught our first trout! And what a feeling! No longer are we taunted by this long running black mark hanging over our fishing capability. We are successful trout fisherman.

First trout was caught in the Warren River, near Pemberton, over the course of a camping mission during the Western Australia Day long weekend. Sharni came along for the camp too, although did not do any fishing, instead enjoying some reading and relaxing in the awesome forests in the area, as well as some fancy coffees and food back at Pemberton. The gargantuan trees and beautiful waterways in the region are really tremendous and make a great place to camp, trout fishing or not.

Both Hong and I caught a few undersized trout which we chucked back in. Then one of us caught a sized trout big enough for keeps. I won’t say who actually caught it, not because it wasn’t me who caught it (it could have been me), but because it was a team effort. I’m not just saying that coz it was Hong that caught the fish. We both posed for photos to celebrate the awesome teamwork. Although we will always remember the great moment of catching our first trout, the specifics of who actually caught it are so unimportant that it won’t be long until we’ve forgotten who actually caught it.

We cooked our sole trout in Hong’s fish smoker. The same fish smoker we used a couple of months before to cook Australian Salmon. We noted the pungent smell of leftover fermenting salmon before cooking the trout but didn’t think it would affect cooking. How wrong we were. It was Australian Salmon flavoured trout for dinner. Yummy. We left the fish smoker on the fire that night to burn off any remaining salmon remnants.

Whilst camped up at Big Brook Aboretum, mushroom hunters visited to collect some orange mushrooms to eat. They said they weren’t sure of the name of the mushrooms. To me they did not seem very knowledgeable about mushrooms. It is not known whether they survived.

Visiting the facilities in Pemberton to download a brown-load, we noticed some black nightshade growing in the park. The ripe black berries are edible and taste slightly sweet with hints of savoury tomato-like flavour. They’re supposed to be pretty good for you, plus they’re free food, so we chowed down on a few. Apparently the leaves can be boiled up and eaten too but we didn’t try. Don’t eat the unripe green berries, they’re poisonous. They’re ripe when they are black and effortlessly fall off the plant.

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Bush Tucker

I’ve been super busy drinking XXXX Gold beer and writing a collection of articles on bush tucker. I’ve only written about stuff I’ve actually eaten or experienced myself and will add more articles as my diet broadens and my palette’s sophistication grows. Check it out under Macho Divertissement -> Bush Tucker, Plants and Animals. Link is:


dundee beach eating telescopium mud whelks

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Boat Creek, Dundee Beach

The start of the BFCV2. With great anticipation and excitement I picked Hong up from Darwin airport and headed straight to Dundee Beach to kick off our two week camping and fishing adventure. Been there before with Sharni so knew it was a reliable spot where we could do some bush camping on the beach and some fishing. First we had a beer at the Dundee Beach Lodge to celebrate the start of our camp then headed to the dirt tracks and onto the beach. The tracks are easy to find, just head straight from the main road instead of turning right towards town. Go to the end, turn left, go to the end again and turn right. When you first hit the sand tracks you can go right or left. Right takes you straight to the beach to the northern side of Boat Creek – a small tidal creek south of Dundee Beach town. Left takes you around Boat Creek, through a gate and onto the southern side where the mouth of the Finnis River can be accessed by driving further along the beach. We set up camp right near Boat Creek on the northern side.

It was low tide which gave us a good opportunity to forage for telescopium snails in the mangroves and oysters on the exposed rocks. The oysters are very small so don’t make a great meal, but taste just like the bigger variety. I’m yet to see big oysters anywhere, not sure where to find them, although I’ve seen Bush Tucker Man and Malcolm Douglas find them off our northern beaches. The mangrove snails on the other hand are huge by snail standards. We collected a good dozen or so for dinner. They can be found among the mangrove roots. They’re really salty, taste like a mixture between crabs and mussels. Maybe would be better to boil them to take out some of the salt. We cooked them straight in the hot coals. Found a huge flat jelly fish beached near the creek.

That night we flicked lures into the creek and I landed one small barra. Threw him back in. The bait fish were going absolutely ballistic. Huge quantities jumping around everywhere. I’ve never seen it like that before. Spotted one crocodile which I tried to take a picture of. In the photo you can see a dot which is the reflection from the croc’s eye.