Home and Away in WA
Trip Start Mar 05, 2010
35Trip End Mar 04, 2011
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With a new isolator quickly fitted we tested everything and now the shower pump wouldn't work. Months of working and testing and it's all failing the day we choose to leave. Thankfully the pump was ok, it just needed a little more power, which it had when I started up the engine. It is still to this day intermittent and when the water out the shower dies the one of us not showering has to rush round and start the engine up. C'est la vie.
We only got 250kms from Perth before it got dark and we needed to find a place to stay. Cervantes town which is the closest town to the Pinnacles had no camping signs everywhere. Only one option then. The great Australian outback. Found a dirt road close to the Pinnacles which looked like a service road to a water hole for some road making vehicles. It was well after dark and nothing came our way that night and despite the apprehension we slept quite well. First night a success and we woke up at the crack of dawn feeling a lot more confident about our travels.
We drove around the Pinnacles at sunrise which was awesome but decided to keep our visit short. It was freezing and it's wild flower season a little further north this time of year. We stopped for a pancake breakfast on an isolated beach and were stunned to see two dolfins and a sea lion just a few metres in. They hung about the whole time playing and swimming so I decided to get in and join them. That water was freezing so stopped knee deep but they swam out a little further and didn't come any closer. Perhaps if I had fish pancakes they might have. I bet the bakery in Panang would have made some. Dolfin's Special.
Our first full day out in the Australian wild was turning into a day to remember.
The drive up through the wheatbelt was pretty cool. They say there's not a lot out here but we were enjoying it. The rape is blooming that luminous yellow alongside the lush young wheat which makes the countryside very colourful and dramatic. Stopped at a visitor center in Three Springs and got the low down on local flowers and talc mining. There were flowering bushes everywhere and we were told about a disused army baracks with a small creek we could camp at but we didn't find it. We ended up sleeping in a small car park under a 78m high wind generator which we could hear swooshing from inside the van. I told Bug I wanted to hug it, really only because I wanted to feel if there was any vibration (like you get on Kariba dam wall). Bug found my impulse to hug amusing, I wanted to be a techno tree hugger. I guess if I hug this eco thing I'd be hugging all the trees in the world at the same time. You really don't appreciate how big they are until
you stand next to one.
Geraldton was interesting. We were only there for a couple hours but I felt like I could have stayed longer. It's a relatively small town and felt warm and welcoming. HMAS Sydney famous for taking on and winning against bigger and faster WWII enemy ships was lost along with the German ship it was doing battle with in the Indian Ocean in 1941. No trace of her or any of her crew was found until 2008. A touching memorial was set up on a hill in Geraldton as the town recieved her on a few occasions during the war years. The view of the town from the hill was pretty good too.
We lunched at the cliffs near Kalbarri and watched a few whales just off the coast. Kalbarri National Park is much the same as the surrounding areas, dry and rugged. The Murchison River cut a gorge through the hillside and made for some great pictures. It's spots like these that we'd have loved to stop at over night but it's unsportingly banned.
We did however stop at Hutt River Province and met Prince Leonard who stamped our passports. In 1970 he was in dispute with the wheat board with his quota of 100 acres of wheat when he had already planted over 13000! He cleverly used Aussie and Commonwealth law to break away from Australia and form an independent Province. After years of wrangling with the Aus government he outwitted them again with the declaration of war and a few days later wrote to say the war was over. International law stated that any government that is not defeated in war must be recognised as a legal government. He then formed the 75km sq farm as a Principality recognised by the UN in Switzerland. They even have a navy!! They have 22 permanent residents and 13000 citizens around the world (you can buy yours for about 250 dollars). The place was amazing. It's no more than a farm with farm houses and barns. But there's a now a small church, post office and government office
with official postage stamps and currency to boot. It felt like a little joke really but it was and is completely legit! I asked Prince Leonard to show me the ropes so that I could do the same in Zim. He chuckled and said I'd get in trouble out there but showed me his Z$100trillon note which he jokingly said bulked up his treasury.
In Shark Bay we grabbed a spot for the night on top of a hill overlooking the ocean. It was windy, but as picturesque as I think we'd ever find.
The next morning the dolphins at Monkey Mia were a bit of a let down to be honest. Yes they come in real close, brushing up against you if you're lucky. And yes you may get picked by the officials to feed one but you can't help but feel the dolfins have become dependent on these feeds. Especially sad when there's some young pups picking up on these easy meal habits to benefit from when they are adults. The beach area is designated a 'dolphin interaction and learning' area but you have to pay to get to that beach. One wonders who's feeding who? There were about 100 visitors on our 8am daily visit and there's a 1pm visit as well. I actually learnt more during an hour long video in a video room than I did outside with the rangers. Burgundy and I are consummate nature lovers but this felt far from natural. It's impossible to lay blame though. The dolphins were probably fed by people long before the officials came along and I guess now they are just
doing it in a controlled and educational way. Fair enough I guess.
Campervanning has been tough at times. Fuel is a lot more expensive the further north you go, but worse is the water situation. Water, especially drinking water is hard to come by. Most of it is saved rain water, which you can imagine is not much so it's understandably not willingly dished out. There are a lot of campers. The majority are southern retiree's (they call them the Grey Nomads) slowly heading back after escaping the winter. They are good about sharing their knowledge and we were told about an information bay just outside Carnarvon that had a council tap with potable water. We were amazed to find no one there so filled up our tanks and containers. All 80 gluttenous litres! Definitely the kind of tap location only a local would know of.
We're about half way up Western Australia close to Coral Bay and Exmouth. The first few nights out of Perth were cold for sure. It's warming as we go north but I'm still glad we're doing this in the winter. Summer temps in some places hit 50C! Hopefully it'll still be no where near that when we get to Darwin in a few weeks.
Unfortunately the weather from below Carnarvon, up to Exmouth and well inland had been uncharacteristically wet and overcast for the last 3 days and threatened to last another 3. This put snorkelling on hold until the east coast. We were both looking so forward to the Ningaloo reef that we were quite deflated as we drove up to Exmouth for a look around. The Cape Range campsites were fully booked and with the weather so dire we decided to head on to Karijini in search of drier climes. Due to a miscommunication, I got a 15km afternoon walk through the Cape Range that afternoon, expecting Miggs to come up behind me at any time! Consequently we had to drive a little in the dark but thankfully prayer kept the roos at bay. That day also goes down as the coldest bush shower yet!! I don't recommend the experience at all.
The next day brought us into Tom Price, again on a prayer and an 'empty' tank. We do love our Tommy Transit. He did 77km with the fuel light on and still cruised into town (don't worry parentals, we did have a spare 10l just in case).
Tom Price is a tidy little mining town that caters for the area's huge iron ore mines and Karijini National Park visitors. We indulged in a $2 hot shower. The best $2 I've ever spent!
The next morning we set off to explore the park's famous gorges. The drive in is a little surreal. The red dust blows over every plant and tree it reaches from the road and everything looks like it's on fire. It's fun to photograph!
The gorges are spectacular. We went exploring to see how far we could go. The warnings make them seem a lot more dangerous and I was going to stop where the only two options were chest-deep through a freezing creek or on a ledge with a 'no walking' sign. I'm glad we laughed in the face of danger (hardly!) and went over the ledge. Miggs went ahead like a little mountain goat. It was fun and we eventually found ourselves clambering through a narrow rock passage deep in one of the gorges stradling the little stream that has made the walls smooth and popped out above a big isolated pool.
Hungry for more adventure we went down the next gorge, Knox Gorge. That was steeper and longer and a little bit more dramatic at the end. The way was narrow and too smooth to get down to the inviting looking pool at the end. Sadly we only got to a strategically placed boulder and had a peek at the emerald pool. This bit made me a bit nervous as there didn't look to be an easy way out if we fell in. All was fine in the end and we stayed another day in Karijini National Park and explored the last one, Dales Gorge and it's waterfalls and pools. Such a pity it wasn't warm enough for a swim. From here on up we have to take care to watch out for the crocs! Fun times!
On leaving Karijini at sunrise we had two hot and rather boring days of driving to Port Hedland and then onto Broome. En route to Broome we spent the night on a track off the road and did some stargazing. The skies are so huge and we saw one of the most impressive shooting stars we'd ever seen. It dropped as they do and then dropped again in a luminous yellow/green with a red lining for a good few seconds. We both shouted in amazement and discovered we weren't alone in the outback as we heard similar shouts a few hundred meters down the road!
We popped into eighty mile beach for breakfast and a bit of a wander. While we walked we literally watched the tide turn as we were at the waters edge. It was so strange to see. In a matter of minutes the tide had come up a good 5 meters on the beach. Apparently this part of the coast is renowned for this dramtic tide change.
Last night week we spent the night at Willie Creek (where the pearls are from) and shared a campfire with some travelling Germans and Dutchies who kindly pushed us out when we got stuck in the sand on their 'doorstep'. It was good to spend an evening around the fire.
Today we enjoyed some time in Broome which reminds me of Bulawayo........except it has an absolutely stunning beach and ocean and Bulawayo doesn't. We have just come back from a swim at Cable Beach and now we're at the shop sending you this.......
Next stop is Derby and the Northern Territory. Keep well everyone!
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Tony and Maria Carvalho
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