After 3 years of planning our “Big Trip” began.
We left Tuesday morning at 8:30am with a send off from my parents and we headed to Wagoe Station which is about 20km south of Kalbarri. My son (Dylan) followed in his Jeep Wrangler as we organised to meet and stay with family at Wagoe. Having stayed at Wagoe in October last year, the drive was familiar and took about 5 hours. The only eventful moment was noticing that one of the tyres on Lucky (the camper) indicated we might have an alignment issue (more later). It was great chatting along with our UHF radios and I was glad to have gone with a fixed radio rather than hand held.
We arrived last of our group and were met by Lorainne (Chris' Mum), Merv (Chris' Step Dad), Phil (Chris' Uncle), Helen (Chris' Aunt), Steve (Chris' Unlce), Pete (family friend), Connor (Pete's grandson), Darren (Chris' Cousin) and Cooper (Darrens' Son).
After setting up the camper and catching up with everyone we were ready for dinner and bed. We enjoyed both.
Day 2 - 4WD'ing at Wagoe
Wagoe Station offers beach access for a $20 deposit per car. The beach access is caveated with warnings of setting the correct tyre pressures and a $200 tow off fee if you cannot self recover. We were in a convoy of 4 vehicles and we all felt comfortable that we could get ourselves out. This was the first time I'd taken Gus (my Ranger) beach driving since replacing the suspension and adding a winch.
Our plan was to make the ~15km drive south to Lucky Bay for a snorkel and be back for lunch. The beach conditions were good to soft and by maintaining momentum we would be fine to make the trip.
Unfortunately at a bad spot to stop, my son got a warning light about his transmission fluid overheating. That spiralled into Phil's truck getting bogged, another vehicle carrying a trailer (and overweight for the conditions) dramatically avoiding us and getting bogged, breaking the winch cable on Gus, spending countless hours getting everyone unbogged and then turning back the way we come to avoid any more dramas. It was a fun 5 hours and I learned much from the experience and I am glad we did it as a family and will have great memories from the day.
We finished the day reminiscing over drinks and fixing the winch on Gus. We were all tired that night and slept like logs.
Day 3 - Kalbarri Gorges
We left in the morning and met the family at Kalbarri Skywalk which is located about 30km east of Kalbarri. It is a great way to experience the gorges and provides a thrill for those with height concerns. What was noticeable today was how much water was flowing through the gorge as opposed to October last year. We also visited Natures Window which is a rock formation that provides a great frame for photos.
We all met in the pub in Kalbarri for lunch before separating for the afternoon. Chris, Dylan and myself headed back into the National Park to hike the Four Ways trail. I had been recommend this for the great swim at the end. The walk itself was stunning and although it was not safe for swimming that day, I know we will go back in the future. Chris and Dylan did get in at a safe point.
Back at camp after dinner the wind suddenly changed and came in strong. It was at this point we found out that the wind will be blowing at up to 60km/hr for the night. We bunkered down as best we could, ready for what was to come. Lucky survived the night but the noise of the outer canvas layer made it nearly impossible to sleep through. Lorainne and Merv suffered the most, with their tent breaking, and they had to climb in their car to seek shelter. Nia climbed into bed with us and we huddled in one bed, we finally fell asleep for a few hours.
Our stay at Wagoe has left us with many memorable moments and we are glad to have started our journey with our family.
Wagoe Station Review
Located at the top of dunes overlooking the ocean, Wagoe has a million dollar view. Last October we watched whales leaping from the water for our stay. Without that spectacle our focus turned to the amenities. Unfortunately for the price ($50 per night) there are many issues. We had power and drinkable water, which was great. The bathrooms, toilets and showers were basic and not enjoyable to use. The men's shower choice consisted of one with a lock or one with nowhere to hang clothes and towel. The camp kitchen had a non functioning stove but did provide a kettle and sink for washing dishes.
Can I recommend Wagoe? That is difficult, if I could guarantee whales, zero wind and you are either comfortable with poor amenities or have a caravan with shower and toilet, then yes check it out. Otherwise I don't know if I would stay there again. The owners may realise they could provide much more and turn it into something special, but I know they have been there for many years and they are happy with what they provide.
We have had a few issues over the first few days of our trip. It's funny as we have not had any problems in our other travels.
First Lucky might have a wheel out of alignment. To rectify this, my son helped me in a car park in Kalbarri swap the wheels over and we can start monitoring for wear on the other tyre. I have booked an alignment in Karratha in a months time, which is the closest place I can have it done going north. Campers cannot have wheels aligned at car places due the weight (apparently). Lucky does have 2 brand new spare tyres, which I will use after the alignment.
Our Dometic fridge is too big for Lucky. I left buying it late and had to make modifications to make it fit. The fit was "fine" with Lucky closed but when we open it up the inside door gets caught. We can get it open with pressure but this causes the lid to come off the hinge. I have now added a block of wood to one end and that looks like a fix. It's not ideal but I think it will do. Fingers crossed the fridge is fine on a slight angle.
The fridge came with a cigarette lighter connection and that broke at the end of day one. I had to rig up to 240v for the night and in the morning changed the location of the plug and ran the power lead under the fridge so that it cannot get caught. I will buy an Anderson plug in Carnarvon which will fix this properly.