Basically the quality of a car trip through WA can’t be compared to anything I had before. They are all extremes, but even now not so extreme. That comes only after the fact how special that was.
So let’s start with the car at the beginning. Without car it goes nowhere. It goes with a normal car but the best spots can only be reached with all-wheel drive. By all-wheel I mean a real all-wheel and by no means an SUV like our Toyota RAV4. The thing went already halfway also by absolutely fine sand however I did not trust it so completely. Best you do it like all locals and that is Toyota Hilux or comparable. But they are expensive. The best car is also useless if you are stuck in nowhere. Nowhere is there constantly and that is stuck also. I strongly recommend to take a PLB with you. If what happens then nobody passes by and you die there. That happens constantly. One should not underestimate the dangers really.
One can die there 10m beside the road because there nobody comes past and sees one. The PBL is an emergency call by satellite and I was reassured in some situations to have it with me. The travel quality in WA is extremely high and the roads are very good as far as roads with asphalt are available. The roads are numerous and make amazing shortcuts possible. If you are on the way there, you will inevitably get to know the slopes and train your skills in sand, dust, stones, boulders, water and washboard, even if you only take the main routes. For example, the route Coral Bay to Tom Price is a 70 km long track before Tom Price. I thought it was an asphalted road.
In Shark Bay you can only get to the right places except Monkey Mia by all-wheel drive. There are lists at the Touri places whether the car fits. Ours would not have fit for Big Lagoon at all but I experienced that only later. Altogether I didn’t find the distance so bad but that was extremely fine and deep sand partly. The first time I even managed the track without deflation because I just forgot. At the beginning of the pistes there are actually air stations to release and inflate air and that should be done. About 0.7 bar on the tyres and that drives like butter through the sand. The problem is that the conditions can always change extremely fast. There it needs to rain only times strongly and one must by wet sand which is completely different again.
In particular the ground clearance is also mostly decisive whether you touch down or get through. all par Kilometer there are resting places on the main roads which announce themselves with a Tired sign. The resting places are really very well equipped and always with several grill places in which one can make fire surely and also spend the night can. We never did that but it’s really great. I had planned and was looking forward to a campfire. Not once had I dared to make a fire during the four weeks. The reason was simply that everything around you is always extremely dry and a lot of it is available. I had less concerns about a bush fire itself but about the problem of an unnoticed fire during the night and the hopelessness of getting away.
I had seen some bush fires and burned landscapes up to the horizon. Red shining horizon during the night by bush fires. In addition, the wind was almost always strong. In the middle of the bush it was almost hopeless to make a fire without torching anything. Since the problem did not only exist since today, the Australians have set up barbecue sites at every corner. In Sydney I had not noticed that at all but only after some days in WA. In cities there is in all possible and impossible places the unbelievable luxury of barbecue places with gas and they are always operational. These are metal surfaces in a concrete table and underneath is the gas.
At the push of a button, the thing turns on and turns off again after 20 minutes. There are also tones. The parts are always extremely clean and like new. Meanwhile I also noticed them in Sydney. You can find them in every park on the beach and on hills. On the way on the road I did not see them on the resting places. However there are fire places in a high concrete ring whereby the fire danger is strongly reduced there. The whole thing becomes problematic, however, by the fact that almost everywhere fences are because of the cattle and one does not come far with the car. We have made this actually only one night on the beach beside a sign with camping forbidden and then we have been on camping sites.
At first I thought that would be a bit constricting, but the luxury of showers and washing machines is simply not to be despised. There are camping sites everywhere and in the most different equipment. In the simplest case we had only a demarcation and a flat surface without other people in Big Lagoon Shark Bay and without anything further, however, also without costs, except the entrance for Shark Bay. Then there are some with nice meadows and trees, kitchen, washing machines, showers, pool and community house. In such a campsite we were first in Carnavon after 3-4 days without everything.
Somehow there was not much going on, so that was extremely luxurious due to the previous adversities. The pitches are available with or without electricity. With electricity it usually costs 5$ more per night. I can’t remember the prices exactly but I think that was by far the most expensive in Coral Bay with 50$ per night. Otherwise they must have been about 20$, which is really nothing for two people with a conversion rate of 1:1.5. Somehow the electricity was not to be underestimated with us. It was unbelievable how many devices had to be charged constantly. Mobile phones, cameras, laptops, tablets. The washing machines on the campsites cost money.
At machen there was internet, but the internet was mostly limited to 300 MB volume and was out of the question for us. Basically it was much more interesting for us to go to the campsites than to look for a place in the bush to have no water. However, we always had a 20L water canister with us. North of Perth is the last town Geraldton. Afterwards there are still places but these are not cities and everything further north becomes also really expensive or there is not at all. For our gas burner we had got 16 bottles still in the building market in Geraldton for 1$ the piece. Later one bottle was up to 7$.
In Kalgoorlie there was an eighth of a piece of cauliflower for 3$ and in general vegetables and fruit were hardly affordable because of the transport routes. So if you want to go north then you should buy everything you need in Geraldton at the hardware store and the supermarket. You will certainly not starve but everything will then become more and more a village shop with extremely high prices or building market things then there is no more. The situation is similar with the fuel. Gasoline is quite cheap in Australia with approx. 1.15$/L (2017), although not like in the USA.
In the north we had then partly 1.70$/L at the Roadhouse. Basically you don’t have to worry about gasoline, for two reasons. First, you can always reach the gas stations with max 500 km. So you should always refuel when there is a tank and not when the tank is empty. This should be checked before where the gas stations are and we have also targeted them. The second reason is the unsightly reason and can happen. It often happens that a tank has no gasoline. Then it just doesn’t go on and for the next 500 km one needs more than one reserve canister, thus approx. 50L. If one has so much reserve then one gets over it. This did not happen to us anywhere. One should not be deceived by apparent places on signs or places. Mostly these are stations (cattle breeding station) or maybe a roadhouse.
What’s dangerous? These are not sharks or spiders or snakes but simply the remoteness. You should beware of it or be prepared. If you go 50m into the bush and turn in a circle then you don’t know where you came from. Everything looks the same. There are other things of this kind and basically you should be very careful with the remoteness. There nobody can pass by for the next 100 years. Sharks do not actually make any problems. I hadn’t even seen a single one in Australia although I’ve been there for almost three months now. Spiders don’t cause any problems. I think there are four five dead a year because of spiders.
That is umpteen times less than deaths in bicycle traffic. I didn’t see any snakes in that time either. Spiders can often be seen, but I didn’t take care of them. One forgets that and makes also no problems. The biggest problem because of animals are rather accidents with cattle or others at night. We only drove once at night and every minute kangaroos jumped in front of our car so that we had to drive 20-30 kmh. It gets worse with cattle. A cattle hit head-on at 100 kmh can be the end for both involved. The Roadtrains have 10cm diameter steel pipe in front and they simply mow them without stopping.
But they can’t stop up to five trailers and dead animals are lying everywhere on the roadside. Another danger are crocodiles in the north from Broome. Crocodiles kill the most people, but we didn’t get that far. Otherwise there is still the heat and the sun radiation. The sun burns so violently that you can easily get a sunburn within half an hour. To avoid this, there is LF50 sun protection cream everywhere. This is so important that one should stock up with a 2L bottle right after landing so as not to have to bleed very expensive for it later because the sellers know how important it is. We had partial temperatures of 45 degrees, which is still little and also over 50 degrees can go. Against it helps to drink actually only constantly. Also a bath in the water works wonders.
Concerning Internet we had taken my mobile phone with the Australian number and booked some option. The whole thing was not so expensive and always lasted longer than expected. Interestingly, we had much better mobile phone reception than water. We had e.g. in the Shark Bay at the Big Lagoon where really all around nothing is best LTE reception, better than in DE. On the main roads there was always reception, also in the villages of course. Only in Karijini there was no reception 2km before, which was quite good but not enough to send some data in the evening. The data costs with the options are not so expensive, so that we never had any need for internet.
We were lucky to be able to take extensive equipment with us. What was the most important thing? The cool box! Without the good Waco compressor refrigerator at night -15 degrees reached we would not have had cold drinks during the day and had to buy very expensive food. We had stocked up with a few kilos of meat in Geraldton. Later in Coral Bay it was priceless. At campsites with electricity it ran constantly at the electricity in the storage tent and otherwise in the car.
We had a 100W PV panel with us and a battery and a DC/AC converter. This gave us the security to have electricity and above all to be able to recharge an empty car battery. Twice it was empty by accident. Cloths are always important and garbage bags. Besides a gas cooker and of course dishes and lamps for the night. In WA it gets already 2000 dark in summer. Besides you should have tape and some tools.