Kununurra you interesting place…
After our weekend away to Purnululu National Park we headed back towards Kununurra. Our stop there was only going to be brief by intention and then we would head out of WA and into the unknown and excitedly anticipated NT.
We only needed to report our license plate missing with the Police and then get some new ones. So our first port of call when back in town, after using a little reception, was the local Police station. As mentioned in our previous post, the station had been closed when we tried to stop by a few days prior, on the weekend they are too busy rounding up some interesting people in the town.
Anyway into the station we went, where a really lovely guy greeted us. We told him that we needed to report a missing number plate, last seen on the Gibb and that we did not want to get in trouble, so what should we do? His first response was to giggle a little, which in turn gave us a little relief. He said that a missing number plate did not matter to them, that as long as there was some indication as to the cars registration then we had no worry. We had only lost one number plate so of course in our thoughts we knew we would be ok, but we still worried so much thinking that we would be in big trouble if they did not believe our story of it literally rattling off the car. We told him about our cardboard written number plate, but then how it had also disappeared off the car, he thought that was great. But overall he seemed un-phased. He told us to head to the licensing center, that if they needed a report he could write something up (with another giggle), but otherwise we should be fine.
So we headed to the licensing center. Worried about the next part of this whole adventure, our worst thought was that it would take longer than a day and we would have to stay another night in Kununurra…but the lady behind the next calmed our worries by handing over a single sided piece of paper we had to fill out. Really all we had to note was my name, our cars registration and what had happened. The description box took up half the page, but all we could note was ‘we lost it somewhere eon the Gibb River Road’. Super explanatory. The lady took our form, and our other plate which Alex removed which was literally thick with red dirt, and then handed over a new set of plates. She took them for a large pile of plates, just cool here you go here is some new plates, just like that. $25 later we had new plates and were seriously taken back by how easy of a process it had been.
And after all how would anyone know what the process is or what it will entail. Here we had spent the whole weekend worrying that driving to Purnululu without one number plate would get us in serious trouble if spotted, and that we would have to pay a fortune when back in town, when in reality the police and the licensing center were really relaxed and even laughed with us (it was definitely at us) about it. Another experience to add to our adventure.
This whole process only took a half hour, from when we stopped into the Police station to when we emerged with new plates. Unfortunately with the bolts still in place at the front of the car from the one that had rattled off, Alex had a little manual labour to undergo. We had to stop in at Mitre 10 to find some new screws and after some time we secured out new plates which looked out of place on our dirty as car.
With ourselves successful registered to be on the road again we drove the small distance to the Northern Territory border. It was less than a half hours drive, and even though it was around 4:30pm and the sun was going down, we were not staying another night in Kununurra.
We crossed the border and boom it was an hour and a half later, this was really strange because really where in the world is there ever a half hour difference..? And as we crossed the border, for anyone who has even driven from the Netherlands into Belgium, it was the same comparison in roads. We went from smooth bitumen to a road with filled pot holes everywhere, in the middle of the road, the sides and halfway across each lane. It was like being back on a strange track almost with all the bumping up and down. And what made it even strange (to us anyway) was the fact that we could now officially drive 130km/h! This was something we had no idea about and at first it was a ‘wow how awesome’ to ‘ok maybe that’s a little fast for us’. And it was, our car is fully loaded and we have a rooftop tent which can drag, so instead of braving the extra 20km/h we stuck to our WA safe zone and braved the bumpy roads at 110.
As the sun was setting while crossing the border we knew we needed to find somewhere close after to stay the night. In one of our camping books in the car, we sought out the free camps guide (courtesy of my nan thank you). We saw there was a free camp around 100km from the border crossing so we made our way there, which of course was on the only road there which we were on.
We arrived without thankfully seeing any wildlife on the road and set up our camp next to some Italian backpackers. Unfortunately they were not interested in chatting with us, even after our very happy hellos, so Alex and I played some games, reheated our leftovers and took an early night.
Crossing the border not only had changed the time zone to some strange difference, but the scenery had changed, as had the weather. It had been warm during the day in WA but at night as you would have read in other posts, it had been fresh. As soon as we crossed the border it was still 30 degrees at 10pm, we slept with all the windows open and hardly needed a blanket it was lovely! The scenery had changed from very red dirt with shrubs and a few trees to many many many trees and a more dusty regular dirt colour. We understand that this was only a small snippet of the state, but the contrast from crossing a border was so different and interesting to see.
Our first night in the Northern Territory was very cool, we were happy to have left WA after having such an amazing 6 weeks exploring most of it, but we were ready for the next adventure and something new. Bring on the NT!