Willow’s film debut: [not] The Lion King – Pilbara, Western Australia

Willow’s film debut is here! Unfortunately, due to some budget cuts there had to be a few minor changes to the plot which has made the film shorter than originally anticipated.

Anyhow, grab a few pieces of popcorn and sit back and enjoy!

The rest of our story today follows our travels through the Pilbara where we see ancient rock art, catch up with some old friends, and I have an accident with Steph’s teapot.

Where is it?
Other places we have visited

Bone rattling assault on our senses

We have been travelling through some beautiful countryside as we make our way to the North-West of Western Australia. After our gruelling 1,100km of gravel to get to Laverton we relished the sealed road but all that fell to pieces when we hit Wiluna and a surprise 120km of the roughest gravel we had encountered on our trip thus far.

The frustrating thing is that there is no quick and easy way to check whether a road is sealed or unsealed, and google/apple maps doesn’t differentiate. It’s no big issue in our van with 4×4 and AT tyres but the bone rattling assault on our senses is truly exhausting.

As we entered the Pilbara region, we were enamoured by the luscious and varied plant life that grew on the side of the roads; a little taste of things to come before we arrive in wildflower season. The unfortunate reality of building a road through these ecosystems is that there will undoubtably be roadkill. Individually, the best thing we can do for the fauna is to not drive at night; safer for humans and safer for kangaroos.

We were fortunate enough to have a few close encounters with Wedge-tailed Eagles. These majestic creatures are Australia’s largest bird of prey and can grow to wingspans nearing 3 metres. Watching them soar above is a mesmerising experience but be sure that we kept Willow indoors when they were near!

I snapped these shots of this particular individual who was scavenging upon an unlucky roo.

Wanna Munna Gorge

The Pilbara region is home to some of the most impressive and ancient indigenous rock art in Australia. Although there is no accurate way of knowing, carbon dating techniques have placed the works in the vicinity of 10,000-40,000 years old.

We were fortunate enough to have stumbled upon just a few of the hundreds of examples of indigenous art on rock formations in the region but there was one place that really left an impression.

75km West of the town of Newman lies Wanna Munna Gorge. The gorge, dry when we visited, is spectacular in itself but it is only when you step back and look around that you realise you’re not the only one present; adorned on the rocks of the gorge are petroglyphs of emus, kangaroos and lizards. The artwork was etched and carved into the rock thousands and thousands of years ago and is a testament to the enduring culture of our indigenous community.

Brianna and Willow

In the town of Tom Price we caught up with some friends, Phil and Jay who we first met in Queensland in 2020. Since then, they have purchased a caravan and in October 2021 set off to see Australia with their daughter, Brianna and cattle dog, Jack.

Take a look at the photo of Phil and I back in 2020 holding our babies. Oh, they grow up so fast!

In 2022 we caught up with them when they visited Tasmania. Now we have met up in three different states; Brianna was very excited to see Willow this time and sat for a photo with her, of course!

You can follow their adventures around Australia on Facebook and Instagram.

The gratuitous destruction of Steph’s teapot

Steph has one particular superstition which involves me commenting on how well things have been going then something bad immediately happening. It all started on a walk in 2017 when I turned and said to her: ‘We haven’t seen a snake in a while.’ Sure enough, there was one right around the corner.

And so, as we were on the home stretch of our journey back to the coast after months in the outback I thought to myself: ‘Things have been going pretty well with the van.’

Sure enough, one of the circuit breakers that charges our batteries from the engine and solar failed. Without this piece of equipment we are unable to work, so I got busy replacing it with a spare.

From the cupboard above the kitchen I pulled out a container that’s home to some electrical tape, and, in the process knocked Steph’s poor teapot from that same cupboard, dropping to the ground and smashing into pieces.

I was mortified and offered my apologies as we tried to remove an inquisitive Willow from the crash site. Steph forgave my clumsiness – and grumpiness – and I carried on with the repair, soon restoring our power system; though it may be a while before I get to buy Steph a new teapot.

Here is a photo of Willow with the lid that survived the fall.

* * *

We are nearly at the coast of North-West Western Australia, 149 days since leaving Hobart, Tasmania; a journey of equivalent distance to travelling from Vancouver to Guatemala.

Willow has taken every day in her stride, revelling in her drive-time naps and the dust baths she has when we stop. Many adventure awaits as we explore Western Australia; we hope you enjoy our stories as we share with you this incredible part of the world.

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