• Warlu Way to go *

The Warlu Way promises a mix of inland and coastal experiences for travellers who like to keep on the move.

The 2480km track runs from Exmouth to Broome, passing many of the north's inland highlights.

Don't attempt it in fewer than 10 days, more would give you time to absorb the landscapes. Add to that the time it takes to travel from your home to the start and finish.

You'll see gorges, ocean views, majestic waterfalls, some of the State's imposing mining infrastructure plus Aboriginal art both ancient and contemporary.

The official starting point is in Exmouth with the first leg being a 300km return trip to Coral Bay. It's difficult to get accommodation in Coral Bay during the peak season, so travel this leg as a one-day round trip or, to save on miles, as a slight deviation on the way north to Exmouth.

Take time in Exmouth to explore the beauty of Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range National Park. The region has a number of caravan parks such as the Exmouth Cape Holiday Park.

From Exmouth, head 620km to the mining centre of Paraburdoo via Milyering and Nanutarra Roadhouse (where fuel is normally expensive).

From there your next destination is Karijini National Park, travelling 175km via Tom Price. Karijini, one of Australia's biggest national parks situated in the Hamersley Ranges, and the next stop, Millstream- Chichester National Park, are worth a few days at least.

From Millstream-Chichester it's back to the coast to Karratha and Roebourne, 180km away. Though not on the official route, while in Roebourne detour to Point Samson where there are a couple of caravan parks, and the historic ghost town of Cossack (35km).

It's another 200km to Port Hedland, which isn't really an ideal holiday spot but the port and industrial infrastructure are interesting. It's also a good place to replenish your food supplies - there are few other chances to do so before reaching Broome.

Next is a deviation inland to the Marble Bar turnoff (50km) looping back to Eighty Mile Beach, 200km away, where the only business is a 200-site caravan park and shop, and one of the State's most pristine beaches where you will see the amazing tidal variations and enjoy splendid fishing.

The journey ends 200km further on at Broome, travelling through the former copper mining settlement of Whim Creek, once a popular stopping point for fuel, food and refreshment, all sold from its historic hotel. Much to the disappointment of regular travellers it closed in 2011, but was recently bought by new owners who are refurbishing it before it is reopened.

If you are based in the Perth metro area, add another 3500km travelling to the start at Exmouth and the finish at Broome.


  • Inland has much to offer *

The north of the State offers some of the nation's most interesting and spectacular scenery from the Pilbara through to the Kimberley.

Karijini National Park has four ancient gorges, wildlife and scenic walks.

There are options for caravanners to stay in two different parks 40km apart; the Karijini Eco Retreat is a little expensive while Dales Camping Area near Fortescue Falls is more modestly priced. The main campground at Dales has been expanded and now has 140 unserviced sites. There is no water or power at the van sites although there is an area where generators are accepted and some water is available from a nearby tank.

Chilly swimming holes are a refreshing way to end a long walk along the winding gorge pathways. But be warned that some walks will challenge those without a good level of fitness. Signs show the degree of difficulty.

After this first leg of the trip, you may head for the coast or Millstream-Chichester National Park for a few leisurely days before proceeding to the Kimberley.

A good starting point is Derby, where you can see some of the biggest tidal fluctuations in the world. There are two caravan parks in the town with sites to accommodate nearly 300 vans.

If you have a vehicle (preferably an off-road unit) capable of tackling the Gibb River Road, you have a choice of two routes to Kununurra.


  • ROUTE ONE *

You may decide on a round trip from Derby, travelling 260km along the Derby Highway and the Great Northern Highway to Fitzroy Crossing where there is a marvellous riverside caravan park and a tavern. Spectacular Geikie Gorge (Darngku) is just outside town.

Then head further east another 290km to Halls Creek, stopping along the way at Mimbi Caves (95km from Fitzroy Crossing) which have been occupied by local Aboriginal people for thousands of years.

At Halls Creek, there is a modest caravan park and some 20km along the unsealed Duncan Road is Old Halls Creek, the original and now abandoned townsite where there are the remains of historic buildings forged from natural materials by early settlers.

From there, travel 360km through Warmun to the Ord River town of Kununurra where there are a number of caravan parks, including the 2013 Western Australian Tourism Awards silver medallist, the Discovery Holiday Park.

The town is central to the Lake Argyle irrigation scheme and a drive through some of the plantations will give you an insight into the scale of the operations.

It's also worth taking an excursion by road or air to the amazing Purnululu National Park, home to the Bungle Bungle Ranges which were known only to local Aboriginals before the 1980s. We took the aerial option and flew from Kununurra to the foot of the these cone-shaped sandstone marvels, then boarded a helicopter for a low-level flight over this world-renowned spectacle. The flight takes you over part of Lake Argyle and the Argyle Diamond Mine, which is also a stunning sight from the air. On certain days the plane will land at the mine's private airstrip for tours but bookings must be made well in advance.

If you'd rather visit by road, there's a relatively new caravan park with safari tents at the foot of the Bungles. If you choose this option, do it during the drive north from Halls Creek and you'll save a good few hours and quite a bit of fuel.

It's also worth spending a night or two at the Lake Argyle Resort & Caravan Park, where a spectacular infinity pool overlooks the gargantuan artificial lake. This park is about 70km from Kununurra, east along the Victoria Highway and Lake Argyle Road.

As an alternative to spending time at the caravan park, a bus trip can be taken from Kununurra which offers an exciting (particularly when the dam is overflowing) return journey on a boat from the foot of the dam back into town, via the overflow channel and the Ord River.

A relaxing and scenic way to end the day is with a sunset dinner at the Pumphouse Restaurant on the banks of the Ord River.

On your route back to Derby via the Gibb River Road (700km if passable), take a deviation into WA's most northerly town, Wyndham (60km from the turn-off), located on the southern tidal waters of the Cambridge Gulf. While there, take the road to the top of Mt Bastian for an amazing view from the Five Rivers Lookout, where you see the King, Pentecost, Durack, Forest and Ord Rivers merge. The town has a caravan park and several other attractions, including the famous Grotto Prison Tree.

Back on the Gibb River Road, visit Emma Gorge and El Questro Station caravan parks, both near picturesque swimming holes. Another stopover on this road is the Birdwood Downs Station, set among boab trees and noted for its impressive views at sunset.


  • ROUTE TWO *

There is a shorter route

(540km) for those not wishing to go all the way to Kununurra, which takes you to Geikie

Gorge and Fitzroy Crossing before doubling back cross-country through the Tunnel Creek National Park to link up with the Gibb River Road.

As well as Tunnel Creek you will see Windjana Gorge.

This trip includes the better sections of the Gibb River Road.

Take the road to Mt Bastian for an amazing view from the Five Rivers Lookout.

The West Australian

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