Stage two of the plan, head to Lake Gregory. So to get there, we’d been informed by the Tourist Information Centre to gain access permission from a nearby community, Billiluna. We’d also been informed that if the office was closed, we could go out there, and then drop back in on the way out. Looking at the map, we didn’t have too far to travel this day.
We did the relatively short drive down to Billiluna, and dropped in on the community. Going to the store, we were told that they didn’t deal with permits, and to go see the CEO. In walking back to our car, we came across a guy, who ended up being the CEO. He told us that it was ok to go, and that the actual permit system wasn’t up and running. “If anyone asks, let them know I said it was ok”.
Before going off to Lake Gregory, we drove 12kms down the road past Billiluna to check out another possible camp spot, Stretch Lagoon. It was a spot on the edge of a lagoon, with lovely big trees around. Looked good, but we were still focused on getting to Lake Gregory. In travelling to Stretch Lagoon, we had to drive on the start of the Canning Stock Route. The Canning is a huge, significant road from the middle of WA up to the Kimberley. A significant 4WD trip. We figured that we could now claim to have been ON the Canning. Hopefully no-one asks us too many details to expose the fact we’d only been on 12kms of it!
We drove back to the Tanami, and down the 75 kms to the Balgo turnoff. We had to transit through Balgo to get to Lake Gregory. Another 75 kms saw us turn up to Mulan, a community just 11 kms from the campspot. The map showed a track off to the left. We were a little hesitant to drive around the community, but had to look for this track. Short story, we couldn’t find it!!!! It took us ages, going through various streets and dead ends in the community. We even tried asking what ended up being a local nurse, but still no luck. It was getting a bit erky, and we didn’t really feel like we were meant to be there. We had to make a decision, so we bailed.
The great retreat was on. This wasn’t a light decision, because things also were complicated doing this. We were not permitted to stay around Balgo without a permit, which we didn’t have, and couldn’t get. Glenn did a heap of fuel calculations, and figured if we just continued down the Tanami we would make it, but it was a little too close for comfort (within 150 – 200kms). We therefore decided that we had to hold up until Monday to get fuel.
In the end, we decided to retreat all the way back to Stretch Lagoon, 150 (ish) kms back (on dirt) where we had come. It was a long way, but a reliable solution.
Amy did another fantastic job driving, and the kids travelled amazingly. What a team!
We were absolutely knackered when we got there and setup. We had a quick Baked Bean and Spaghetti dinner, and we ALL went to bed mega early!!!!!!
The next day, being Sunday, saw us get up slowly, have a lazy breakfast, and a bit of a sit around. It was going to be another HOT day, and unfortunately the lagoon didn’t look too inviting to swim in, (too late in the dry season). We were getting ready for just relaxing and hiding from the heat.
We started talking a little, and floated the idea of doing the complete retreat..... all the way back to Halls Creek, 170+kms away. A few of the convincing arguments included;
· Caravan park
· Clean fuel
· Gave us something to do, travelling in the air conditioned car
Decision made, we packed up, said goodbye to our second trip on the Canning Stock Route and completed the Great Retreat.