Whilst journeying up to Exmouth last month we stopped in for a couple of nights at a working cattle station called “Bullara” that also offers accommodation. It has been one of our most enjoyable camps on the trip to date. There were sheep and cattle roaming around freely and the amenities were of a much higher standard than what we have come to expect for that kind of place.
The real highlight for us though was the camp host John, whose passion for the place and for creating community was clearly evident from the moment we arrived. He has been driving up to Bullara for the tourist season in his massive Winnebago for the last four or so years to manage the campground. Every evening at five there was happy hour, where he would share around a loaf of his famous freshly baked damper. Campers would gather at the camp kitchen with their butter, jam and drinks well before five in anticipation. John got up and gave a little speech about the history of his damper sharing happy hour and recited a little poem he had written about the station. Essentially he wanted to create a space where travellers could meet and have a chat at the end of the day. This was great for us as at that stage we hadn’t chatted much with others on the road. We haven’t come across many young couples on the road, it’s either families, the grey nomad set or backpackers. While everyone is friendly we have found that families will get chatting and the kids will play together, or the oldies will get together and have their happy hour drinks. People are attracted to others who are similar to them in circumstance I guess so we have found that we are keeping to ourselves a lot when it comes to finding people to hang out with! We are also not really outgoing enough to approach a group of strangers to sit and have a drink with either, so we are partially to blame.
Anyway, one evening the conversation was centred around places people had travelled to in the area, and one lady brought up the relatively nearby town of Marble Bar, which has the dubious reputation of being the hottest town in Australia with (number of consecutive hot days here), saying that they were thinking of going there but other travellers had told them that there was nothing there worth seeing and not to bother, so now there weren’t sure whether they should go. John was quite adamant in his excellent reply that you shouldn’t be put off by people who tell you not to do something or go somewhere, you should go there yourself and make your own judgment. He had been to Marble Bar and thought it was great.
It might sound like an obvious comment to make, as one person’s trash is another person’s treasure as the saying goes. But people telling you to avoid certain places for one reason or another has been a common occurrence in our recent experience of this trip. That same evening a man was telling me to reconsider taking our car up to Mitchell Falls in the North Kimberley because we would probably wreck it on the track in. It did make me a bit nervous about doing the trip up, but we did it and even though the track was pretty rough, we took it slow and didn’t have any issues. If we had taken his advice we would have missed on one of the most spectacularly sights of the trip so far.
Similarly, walking the trail through Windjana Gorge we were told by some other tourists who were on their way back to turn around as there was nothing to see for the rest of the way. We again decided to ignore them and pushed on, and while there wasn’t anything interesting to see at an immediate glance, as we started to look closer at our surroundings there were plenty of nice things to appreciate. Jason saw a school of fish swimming along in the river, I spotted a pretty flower I hadn’t seen before, and also had a close up encounter with a Children’s Python that was slithering along a branch I was practically nose to nose with whilst pointing out to Jason the debris from the wet season that was still caught up in the trees. Scared the bejesus out of me and my over the top reaction amused Jason to no end as it always does! Again I’m glad that we continued as we would’ve missed out making those memories if we had turned around.
So I will have John’s words in my head as we continue this trip and take theadvice of other travellers of what not to do with a grain of salt. If there is nothing to see, perhaps you just need to take a bit of a closer look.