Willow cries when we leave her behind – Yulara to Laverton on 1,100km of rough roads

It’s about time I let you know where we are going because it’s not often we know ourselves. The plan is to make it to Exmouth, Western Australia where we will snorkel on the Ningaloo Reef. Obviously Willow won’t be going in the water, but she’ll be perfectly fine with that.

First, we needed to get to Western Australia.

The Australian continent is vast and with 87% of our population residing within 50% of the coast, not a lot happens in the centre; there are deserts, mines, cows and not many sealed highways. So to get to the North of Western Australia from South Australia requires a special shortcut known as the Great Central Road. This would save us about 600km of driving had we gone back South, or thousands heading North.

Where is it?
Other places we have visited

We crossed the border into the Northern Territory on a wet morning. Fortunately, the rain cleared for just long enough to snap a shot of Willow next to the welcome sign.

It was sad to leave Coober Pedy. We had a great time there and really could have stayed another few weeks, but the fact that there are mine shafts every 4 metres had us looking forward to spending some time somewhere a bit more relaxing where Willow could go off-lead.

Along the way we had to drop off some painted rocks. If you’re not familiar with the concept, this is a community activity where people decorate rocks and then hide them in public places for others to find. Participants often post clues or share their discoveries on social media to encourage others to join in the fun.

These ones were given to us by our friend Janet who we caught up with a few months ago.

Now in the NT, we found ourselves stuck in Yulara for a week as we waited for some mail to arrive and for the road West to reopen after the rain. This is one of the hard things to get right when you are travelling; occasionally we might need to order something to a Post Office and it is very difficult to estimate where we will be in x amount of business days to receive it.

Yulara is the gateway to Uluru and unfortunately little blacks cats aren’t allowed in the park. However, we were able to get this snap as we headed out to the Great Central Road, our shortcut to Western Australia.

The Great Central Road spans 1,100km between Yulara and Laverton and only short stretches are sealed. We lowered the pressure in our tyres to handle the corrugations and let the suspension do its thing.

The land that the road passes through is private property, however the native title owners allow people to transit provided they request a permit before doing so from both the NT and WA sides. Our permits allowed us 3 days to travel to Kaltukatjara at the border (230km) and another 3 days to Laverton (879km); this meant some big drive days for us.

To put things into perspective, in our trip up until this point, our daily average was 50km per day. Obviously that accounts for many days parked in the one spot with drive days rarely exceeding 150km. To get to Laverton we would have to do 293km per day on gravel.

There are lots of small communities along the way with most having a roadhouse for refueling. With our 90l tank we only needed to top up a small amount to get us through; the prices were as one could expect this deep into the outback.

The landscape features a mesmerising expanse of red sand dunes, rocky terrains, and arid plains that showcase the raw beauty of the Australian outback. The road was in alright condition with only a few sections of killer corrugations, though at times the road turned into a lake from the recent rain; very messy, but very fun!

As we drove those bumpy roads there was not a peep from Willow from under the blankets in the back; she really is a seasoned traveller. Though, if I could travel in such comfort there wouldn’t have been a peep out of me either!

We were very glad to make it to the end and there we found ourselves in the ghost town of Malcom. Walking its streets, its hard to imagine that this gold town once had 6 hotels and a swimming pool. There’s nothing left there now except for piles of old tins and crockery.

We found lots of interesting relics that we placed beside one of the information boards for other people to enjoy. As the sun set, we went for a walk with Willow and she really wasn’t happy that we got a little too far ahead of her for her liking; point taken Willow. She was crying out until she caught up with us.

Notice in the video how her body language changes when she catches up, her tail back up in the air. Her tail is a good way for us to know how comfortable she is in a situation and whether she needs more support.

So proud of our little black adventure cat; it really is great to see Australia through her eyes. She makes our van feel like a home more than anything.

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We are now continuing our trip North on our way to Exmouth, but it will be a while before we get that dust out of the van! Coming into Spring is the best time to be in North-West WA. The wildflowers have to be seen to be believed. I can’t wait to share it all with you!

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