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Interview with Suchi Govindarajan – Camping in the Kimberley, Australia
Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

By Sudha Mathew

Welcome to the first post in what’s going to be a regular feature on this blog – Interviews with exceptional travellers.

Today, I am interviewing Suchi Govindarajan, a witty columnist, an accomplished tech writer, a talented amateur photographer and a very dear friend from my schooldays in Chennai. Suchi has travelled widely and does at least one camping holiday a year. The only reason why she hasn’t covered more of the globe is because till recently she lived in Australia which as you know is about a month away from anywhere else you want to go. She moved to India a couple of years ago. What does she do then? Turns right around and heads back to Australia! In this interview, we chat about why she spent 12 days in the most remote area of Australia with no electricity, Internet or mobile connection and a hot shower and hot meal once in three days.

1. So what made you choose a camping holiday in the Kimberley? Tell us a little about the trip.

Well…in my 8 years of living in Australia, I’ve covered most of the popular camping spots in my home state of Victoria, Uluru and even Tasmania. Kimberley, the most remote area in Australia has always piqued my interest with its stunning visuals on travel shows. The unusual landscape and remoteness is what attracted me. And for a change, I had the opportunity since I didn’t have to use my time off in India for the annual visit home. My husband is equally keen on camping holidays so it works out perfectly.

The route that we took is called the Gibb River Road, a 650 km stretch from Derby to Kununurra. We drove every alternate day, stayed in tents apart from a few days in between when we had stayed at the resorts (quite basic) on the route. We did a massive grocery shop before we left and carried lots of canned food. There are numerous gorges, rock pools and nature parks that you can get off the road for. The tough part is choosing a few and sticking to it.

2. I’d love to hear the top 5 highlights of your trip 

  • Driving through Red earth and blue skies with not a cloud throughout the entire trip of 3000 kms.
  • Experiencing the change in landscape once you get off the road. From desert-like road to riverbed crossing to rock pool with tropical plants, the difference is unexpectedly magical.
  • Watching the spectacular 360-degree sunsets every day. There’s nothing between you and the sky to dilute the experience.
  • Spotting unusual birds and massive crocodiles in their natural habitat where you are the outsider, not them.
  • The night sky in Kimberley is littered with stars and you can even see the Milky Way with your naked eye. It is hard to spot the usually recognizable Southern Cross constellation because of the sheer number of bright stars.
  • The part I loved the most was getting back to basics. On this trip, all I did apart from the drive was eat, walk and sleep. This is the closest I’ve felt to nature, almost like an animal.
The Kimberley Australia
Photos courtesy Suchi Govindarajan

3. What is the hardest part of holidaying in such a remote area?

It’s not exactly the hardest part; the most important part of the trip was planning to a very high degree of detail. Considering that 350 kms is the average distance between diesel stops, there’s no mobile connectivity and the heat is at 40 degree, a mistake can be catastrophic. There are many things to pack that you do not need on other road trips. Physical maps, large amounts of food that will not spoil in the heat, DIY car maintenance kit, adequate drinking water and most importantly, mapping the route as per fuel stops. The heat is unbearable Between 11 am and 1 pm so you have to plan to be near a rock pool or in the air-conditioned car during that period.

4. What advice would you give someone planning a similar trip? Anything to do or to avoid that you realised only after getting there?

I recommend at least 15 days since there is so much to see in the Kimberley.  For most people it’s likely to be a once in a lifetime trip so make the most of it. I also wish that I had flown into Broome airport and out from Kununurra or vice versa since we spent two days driving back to Broome. Those two days would have allowed us to visit Mornington Wilderness Sanctuary, which is an exceptionally pretty area in Kimberley. This is an obvious tip but still…get the best four-wheel drive that you can and read up on everything you might need to carry with you. The road is unsealed (not tarred) and you will drive through shallow riverbeds a few times.

Keep a hawk’s eye on the fuel gauge at all times. Despite being super planned, we almost ran out once. And lastly, after experiencing the starlit nights under the Kimberley sky, I regret not carrying an astronomy book.

5. What was your favourite place in the Kimberley region?

The Bungle Bungle National Park or Purnululu National Park as it is officially called, with its almost alien landscape of orange and black striped beehive domes. It’s hard to describe this place verbally and much easier to understand why through my photos.

The Kimberley Australia
Photos courtesy Suchi Govindarajan

6. I know I said five questions but I sneakily added a bonus question. Who is your favourite travel companion and if you had a choice of anyone else dead or alive who would it be?

I love traveling with my husband because our skills are complementary. He drives, I navigate. I plan, he executes. He is very calm about everything while I get stressed about certain things like delays or something not going as per plan.

I would choose Bill Bryson because he’s funny and seems to have a knack for meeting the most interesting people when he travels.

Useful links about Kimberley region and planning your trip

http://www.kimberleyaustralia.com/kimberley-blog.html

http://www.gibbriverroad.net/

http://www.australiasnorthwest.com/Destinations_of_the_North_West/The_Kimberley

 

If you would like to read more of Suchi’s writing, hop over to her blog at http://suchiswriting.com

Cheers

Sudha


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Posted by Sudha at 12:15 am
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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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