12 Day WA Coach Tour With Outback Spirit
Commenced 18th Aug 2012

Tour Notes

Others may have different opinions but this is the way I saw things. I genuinely liked everyone on the trip and had many long and interesting discussions with most people. Anything I say about anyone or anything is purely in fun. Some information I got from others on the trip. I may have enhanced some of the information I gathered. Anything that is blatantly incorrect please let me know. All photos referenced have been converted to a smaller size for faster downloading.

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The Participants
Ann & Rick
Ian & Jenny (Father & daughter)
Mary & Les
Alistair & Di
Jenny & Garth
June & Bev (Friends)
Sue & Brian
Edwy & Jessie
Patsy & Ian
Jocelyn & Alan
Trish & Alison (Friends)
Graeme & Barbara
26 Australians, 14 Women and 12 Men.

John and Jen were the driver and tour guide respectively. See this photo of John and this photo of Jen. They did a fantastic job. Thank you.

Trip Summary
Broome to Perth via the Pilbara, Karijini and Ningaloo.

Distance Travelled
4,800km on the bus.

Best Dinners
There were a few:

  • Zanders restaurant in Broome had excellent food.

  • In the newly built resort at Exmouth. Excellent food and service.

  • The buffet dinner in the restaurant in the motel at Carnarvan was very good.

  • The best selection of buffet food was in the Atrium restaurant in the Burswood Casino although the quality of food was not the highest

The Price of Accommodation
Very expensive in most mining towns. There is not enough accommodation for the tradesmen required to build the infrastructure in these towns. In Port Headland houses were $2,500/week. There were caravans in many properties housing people. Some roadhouses had rows of dongas at the rear as a way of making extra money.
One night we stayed at Pardoo Station near Pt Headland in dongas. They were adequate. It was too expensive for us to stay in Port Headland. Pardoo has 80 dongas used by tourists and mine workers.

Best Place
Karijini National Park. Stayed in ECO tents. See this photo. Myself and Don swam in the pool below the Fortescue waterfall. There were lots of people there because it is easy to get too. The water was warm. Spent some time driving to various lookouts. From one lookout, we could see people at the bottom of the Joffre gorge near a lovely waterfall. At reception, we asked how to get down there and myself, Don and Jenny walked and clambered into the gorge and swam in the waterhole beneath the waterfall and sat under the waterfall. See this photo. It is not easy to get into the gorge so there was only a few there. The setting was magical but the water was very cold.
On the second evening, some went star gazing. We did not go but others said it was excellent.

What Surprised Me
The number of people that traverse this route. At Exmouth, all the caravan parks were full and we passed heaps of caravans on the road. The reality is that there is not that much to see and what there is too see is not that interesting.

Longest Wait
At a rail crossing between Millstream and Karratha we had to wait for an ore train to pass pulling 236 ore trucks.

Best Singer
Jen, our guide. At Carnarvan, we had the adjoining motel room and I heard her playing the guitar and singing. Listen to this (45 secs). Note that depending on the security settings in your browser, the music file may be blocked from playing.

The Dust
Was very bad inland. In particular, Karijini had unmade roads and the red dust was bad. I washed the dust off the solar hot water units at the rear of our ECO tent. The phone box near the restaurant was powered by solar panels but the panels were covered in dust. See this photo. Nevertheless, Ann was able to make a call. See this photo.

Best Boardwalk
Overlooking Eagle Bluff near Denham. I have never seen one this good. See this photo.

The Collected Wisdom
Our children hassle us about the ages of our fellow passengers and how boring it would be. On the contrary, I tell them, these people have all lived a long and interesting life and have many things to talk about. Much better than empty headed young people.

Bus Problems
A few minor issues.

  • Two of the consoles that hold the lights and air conditioning outlets fell down. We pushed them into the cavity above and later John did a makeshift repair. The next day water droplets started forming and dropping down so umbrellas were used. See these photos.

  • John had new batteries fitted to the bus in Tom Price.

  • One of the window blinds was missing.

  • The toilet light was not initially connected and some of us had to pee in the dark.

Best Sleeper
Jen (our guide) on the Mount Whaleback tour. See this photo. She had a good excuse though, the previous evening she had visited her son who lives in Newman.

There are Frogs in the Toilet
At the Karijini ECO Resort they were hiding under the toilet seat and climbed down into the bowl when the seat was lifted. See this photo. I was worried they would be flushed away but they hung on.

Most Expensive Fuel
At Nanutarra roadhouse between Dampier and Exmouth.194.9c for unleaded, 205.9c for premium unleaded and 145.9 for LPG.

Monkey Mia. Not a town but a resort. Smaller and not as exotic as I expected. Feeding the dolphins was interesting. See this photo of Di feeding them which was very well controlled and orchestrated. Would have liked to see only children invited to feed the dolphins. Beach average. We went out on a catamaran to see some dugongs but only saw a few shadows in the water. See this photo. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant afternoon on the boat.

The Things You Find
We took this photo of a bed cover in one of the places we stayed in. Exactly the same as one we have at home..

Strangest Picture
We took this photo in the sand on Cable Beach (Broome) near Zanders restaurant.

Coral Bay. Pleasant little town. Lovely beach. We went out to the Ningaloo reef in a glass bottomed boat and some of us snorkelled. First time snorkelling for Ann and myself. Saw lots of interesting marine life from the glass bottomed boat. Water was warm and the swimming was very pleasant. Much better than I expected.

Best and Worst Towns

  • Very impressed with Tom Price. Clean, modern and green.

  • Newman was a little rundown. In particular, the shopping complex was very untidy. We were treated to some fireworks in the evening near the motel we were staying in.

  • Coral Bay was much better than I expected.

  • Geraldtown surprised me. Relatively clean and a lovely waterfront area.

Best Lunches
A couple of days we had lovely salad rolls. See this photo of Ann and others at Hamelin Pool and this photo of lunch at The Pinnacles.


  • Tony was given a room in Karratha but there was already someone in it.

  • Barbara & June slept in at Pardoo Station.

  • Mary & Les must have ticked the wrong box somewhere because they had single beds until we got to Carnarvan.

  • Ann lost the end of a cotton bud in her ear. At Tom Price, during the morning break, we walked to the local hospital and a nurse removed it. The nurse reminded her that you should never put anything larger than your elbow in your ear.

Best Accommodation
The most luxurious was in the newly built resort in Exmouth (see this photo of Ann). Most places were very good. In Karijini National Park, we stayed in "ECO tents" (see this photo), very similar to ones we have previously stayed in at Emma Gorge (WA) and in Namibia (Africa).

Biggest Phone User
Jenny. She got tied up with some work issue and was seen using her mobile on numerous occasions. See this photo.

Best Talk
By the lady at Pearl Luggers in Broome. Last time we were in Broome we also went to Pearl Luggers and the guy giving the talk did an excellent job. See this photo.

Thinnest Toilet Paper
Pardoo Station. See also these photos of toilets.

Best Sunset
Ann took this photo at Exmouth.

They Tricked the Pelican
At Monkey Mia, a pelican flew in at dolphin feeding time expecting to get a feed of fish The staff were ready for him and lured him up the beach and away from the dolphins with a fake bucket of fish. See this photo.

They sit with You
Outback Spirit staff sit with you at meal times and join in the discussions. We have taken a few overseas bus trips and it is the policy that the driver/guide deliberately do not sit with you.

Best Photos
Ann took this photo of me on the pier at sunrise at Monkey Mia. I took this photo of Ann at Gantheame Point, near Broome.

Things are Big and Long
See these photos.

The Price of Laundry
At Karijini ECO resort the laundry is sent to Perth (1,900km one way). All of the local laundries are already at full capacity with laundry from the mine workers. Also, local laundries did not clean too the standard required at the resort.
At the motel in Karratha, we washed our red dust caked clothes and put up a clothes line in the trees outside our room. The wind was blowing and they dried very quickly.

Biggest Lens
Se this photo taken at Monkey Mia.

Worst Dinners
I get annoyed at restaurants that cannot remember who ordered what. They come out with meals asking who ordered this particular dish. When they take the order, it should be recorded who ordered what and where they are sitting. The good restaurants brought out meals and gave them directly to the person who ordered it.

  • Restaurant in the Karratha motel. The meal was average but there was a very long wait between courses. Breakfast was good but you had to ask for hot water for your tea or coffee (bit strange).

  • In Geraldtown, the restaurant did not serve dinner, so we want across the road to "Skeeters". The vegetables were not cooked and there was too much batter on the fish. Not very impressed.

Best Quote
The fishing at Pardoo Station is "so good that you have to hide behind a tree whilst baiting the hook".

So You Want to See The Wildflowers In WA
On our trip we stopped a few times to look at the wildflowers but there were not that many. I suggest you go to Kings Park in Perth. See this photo. We did take this photo of the Sturt Desert Pea at Millstream.

Ian(83)/Don (55).

Interesting Signs, Sculptures and Paintings
See these photos.

Best Poem Writer
Jen, our guide. She wrote a lovely poem about all of us. Click here to see what she wrote.

Nobody Smoked
Except John the driver. That was good.

Most Solar Panels
In Carnarvan, I saw this house completely covered in panels.

Best Morning Tea
Actually, they were all good.

Least Appetising Lunch
At Denham, we had pastries. Others said they liked them but the pie I had was full of gristle. See this photo of everyone crowding around the table getting their pastries.

Other Significant Things We Did

  • A guided tour of Port Headland by a local.

  • A talk and DVD at the visitor centre in Dampier.

  • Looked at the Red Dog memorial between Karratha and Dampier.

  • A tour of the Mount Whaleback mine facilities in Newman.

  • A walk around the visitor centre at Karijini.

  • A walk around the Millstream visitor centre, gardens and pools.

  • Walked around the lighthouse in Exmouth.

  • Visited the Tourist Information Centre in Denham;

  • Looked at the stromatolites from the boardwalk near Hamelin Pool.

  • Had a talk about the old telegraph station at Hamelin Pool.

  • Visited the HMAS Sydney memorial in Geraldtown.

  • Visited the Pinnacles near Geraldtown. See this wide angle photo of The Pinnacles.

What is New with Outback Spirit
Nothing. This is our 5th trip with them and we noticed no changes since our last trip.

Tour Rating
6/10 Stars. It is not the fault of Outback Spirit but this was the least interesting of the five trips we have done with them. There is just not that many interesting things to see and there are long distances between whatever there is to see. Nevertheless, this trip is one that every Australian has to do. My rating does not factor in the excellent company we had on the trip.

What could be done differently
Not much. At Karijini ECO resort there was externally offered a "stargazing" evening activity. This could be incorporated into the Outback Spirit itinerary.

Thank You
To everyone on the trip. We had many interesting discussions. You all contributed to making it an enjoyable event.