Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park is a green jewel cradled by red earth and an aqua blue ocean.
From El Questro we returned to Kununurra to restock before starting the 1,400 kilometre journey to Eighty Mile Beach.
We intended to break the journey into three by staying overnight at the Bungle Bungle Caravan park and then at Willare before arriving at Eighty Mile Beach. The escalating crime rates in the towns of the Kimberley is a concern for travellers refuelling or looking for overnight stays. Petty theft at petrol stations is a daily occurrence, often by small children, some as young as six years old. In 2019 when we travelled this area it was not like this. This time we took the precaution of not taking a wallet or phone into the service station and one of us always staying with the locked car. While stopping to refuel at Halls Creek we witnessed a theft from an unlocked car with the driver standing on the other side of the car. The children offending would have been about ten years old. As travellers we can keep driving, but our hearts go out to the communities that are having to tackle this escalating problem with their youth. Before leaving Kununurra our friend Maree (in Qld) let us know the Bungle Bungle Caravan Park had been on the news and was closed. The only option we felt comfortable with was to make the 650km drive to Fitzroy Crossing where we had stayed in the caravan park previously. This would take about 8 hours with the van, a much longer drive than we would normally do in a day. The roads at dusk are quite unsafe as kangaroos become active at that time and the farms through out the Kimberley are mostly unfenced and cattle straying across the road is common.
Our other concern was the Fitzroy River Crossing bridge which had been destroyed during the recent floods. Construction had started on a new bridge due for completion at the end of 2024. SInce leaving Qld we had been closely monitoring the WA Main Roads website for updates on the crossing. They reported a temporary crossing had been constructed and opened for 4WDs only (no vans) but would be opened to vans and semi trailers long before we got there, which is why we continued to trust we would get across. But the river rose again and it was closed, then reopened when the river receded. So we were keeping a close watch for updates. I should mention here that there is no other road south from Fitzroy Crossing for trucks and vans. The only other way is via the Gibb RIver Road, a dirt road unsuitable for trucks and caravans, and which was still closed due to damage and high water levels. So, if the bridge was not available, our only other option would be retrace our tracks and head down through central Australia, a detour of 7,000 km. Which is what the semi-trailers and trucks have been doing since the bridge was taken out.
We stayed at Fitzroy River Lodge Caravan Park. It is on the Fitzroy River and next to the replacement bridge, currently under construction.
The construction site office and accommodation had been set up in the park. About 20 or more mobile accommodation units as well as various other temporary buildings as offices. We felt very safe with so many construction workers coming and going. We also saw police cars patrolling the park ever hour or so.
The next morning we crossed the temporary bridge.
We had planned to head straight to Eighty Mile beach, 700 km away. But we noticed the lock on the caravan door was broken and the door would not lock. So we detoured to Broome where we could get it fixed, an extra 70km.
Refulled at Sandfire Roadhouse as the sun went down.
Driving the 10km dirt road into Eighty Mile Beach caravan park in the dark with cattle walking beside the road, was slow and nerve wracking. But we made it without kissing any cows with our bull bar.
Eighty Mile Beach
Eighty Mile Beach is actually 220km (136 miles) long, it is where the Indian Ocean meets the Great Sandy Desert.
The nearest towns are Broome 376 km north, or Port Hedland 252 km south.
Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park is shady, very quiet and right next to the beach.
The main form of recreation here is fishing (sadly we didn’t bring any rods with us)
Beach buggies were very popular for fishing, such an amazing array of different set ups. We thought at first the park must hire them, but everyone brings their own.
Although the water was a beautiful turquoise blue, it was also very cloudy which made swimming unpopular. The sand was not granular like on east coast beaches, it was more like a fine cement dust, mixed with shells.
Such an array of colours and shapes.
There were a lot of skeletons of Cake Urchins or Metalia Spatagus, on the beach as well as hundreds of sand dollars, another type of sea urchin. Eccentric Sand Dollars or Dendraster excentricus are the most common type found in Australia.
I was setting out our collection of shells when to my great surprise, one got up and walked away.
We both felt a great sense of responsibility for the little chap. After some enthusiastic debate we decided the safest time to release him was at dusk so he was less likely to get picked up again. He did himself no favours by choosing a particularly beautiful shell as his home. Keeping him cool, hydrated, and entertained for the afternoon was quite a challenge. He was incredibly fast and active.
It was a bitter sweet farewell, we had become quite fond of him.
The purpose built sunset platform was a great place to meet and chat with fellow travellers.
Cheers til next time, Helen and Tim
In loving memory of Berice Down. A truly beautiful soul, gone but never forgotten ❤️