Trip around Australia: Background

As you can see from the itinerary, our trip went from Canberra to Perth, around the north of Australia. It took seven weeks in all, mostly camping in tents or sleeping in swags under the stars. We'd saved up our holiday, including mid-tour leave from the Foreign Office - I could in theory have done some of it officially as High Commissioner but we prefered to be anonymous and not to stick to too rigid an itinerary.

The origins of our trip go back to the 80's, when Katie and I lived in Australia. Then, we'd driven from Sydney to Perth right around the south of Australia, with two windsurfers and a tent. Since then, we've wanted to complete the circuit, and to drive around the north.

Two friends in the UK, Roddy Stansfeld and Susie Wade, were also interested in doing this, but it proved hard to find a time when we could all get away. Finally, the opportunity arose when I was posted to the High Commission in Australia.

We bought a second-hand four-wheel-drive car for the trip - a Toyota Landcruiser previously owned by the Bowral Fire Brigade. It was quite a squash with the four of us and all our gear, but we had a huge roof-rack and just about fitted in all the camping gear and clothes on the roof, and all the cooking gear and food in the back.

Roddy and Susie came to stay in Canberra for a few days and then flew to stay with a friend in Townsville, in northern Queensland. Katie and I drove up and picked them up there. Our route then took us across Queensland into the Northern Territory; up through Kakadu into Arnhem Land and to the Cobourg Peninsular; then across to Western Australia, via Victoria River Downs, a million-acre cattle property; that was followed by a canoe trip down the Ord River to Kununurra, and then a long drive along the (dirt) Gibb River Road and up to the Mitchell Plateau in the north of the Kimberly; on via lots of gorges to Broome on the west coast; and then down the coast to Perth, via the Pilbarra, Exmouth and Shark Bay. 15,000 km in all.

On to Day 1

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