Words & images by Salty Davenport
With five weeks free to hit the road in search of new adventures, few feelings can match that of opening up a nice paper map and marking all of the possibilities – the options seem endless. Setting out north from Perth, my latest trip was all about getting my feet back on red dirt. I drew some options on the map that would have me dipping my toes in the surf en-route to a few magically barren inland locations. There’s something special about solo outback travel, moments when there are no other lights or people around. Just you, the stars above and your own thoughts.
Image: Salty D soaking in the serenity
The trusty paper map has character, earning new creases every time you open it and pretend to know how to fold it back up – it’s always handy to have a backup though. In my case it’s the HEMA HX-1 Navigator. This nav system is incredibly smart and I can happily say the more I used it, the more I loved it. I found it particularly handy when driving at night in search of camp spots, marking points of interest or photogenic locations to revisit, and so on. I was able to record my entire adventure without needing an SD card (that reminds me, I need to back it up!). It's an awesome way to look back on the trip and share info with mates who plan to head out that way.
Images: The HX-1 in situ (left) and planning tomorrow's adventure (right)
After setting out from Perth I met a friend north of Carnarvon on Waroora Station, an awesome spot for fishing and surfing and one I will definitely return to. Once we touched the coast we planned to head east to the landscapes of Karijini. Although we love Karijini we've explored it several times before, so we soon decided to set our compass towards Marble Bar where we'd find some dry river beds to pan for gold. We did leave with a lot of beautiful rocks, sadly, none of which were gold. We will be better equipped for the prospect next time!
Image: Beauty abounds but no gold will be found
Along the way I compared the maps on my nav with the Google maps my friend was using and realised I could always pick great ‘out of the way’ tracks and campsites that he wasn't able to find. HEMA 1 up!
Whether on long gruelling drives over spinifex fields, searching for river bed campsites or weaving through mountainside fresh water springs, there was never a time we weren’t blown away by the landscape. It's often surprising that the hottest place in Australia is surrounded by such a diverse array of waterfalls, gorges and mountain ranges.
Images: Flat grasslands (left) and a mountaintop campsite (right)
From Marble Bar we putted our way north across bitumen, dusty gravel roads and potholed 4wd tracks without getting lost even once. Our next destinations were Broome and Derby to catch barramundi and mud crabs – we happily succeed at both. The northern region is beautiful through late winter and early spring, with temps averaging 28 degrees and sunny. We were in the perfect spot while Perth was experiencing weeks of storms.
Thanks to the HX-1's internal batteries I quickly grew accustomed to rolling out of the swag each morning, lighting the fire, brewing a coffee and sitting down to plan out the day. What a great way to start the day!
Images: Planning the day (left) and back to the coast (right)
Image: The sun sets on another trip but the memories never fade
I've been back in Perth for a few weeks now and my fingers and toes have been cold the entire time. Dreams of returning the north have already returned and I'm itching to put the wheels in motion. The journey never stops, it never should, but sometimes it has to take a back seat. Soon I will have another chance, soon I will go further and run wild.