In this blog we have decided to focus on a few highlights and give you a more factual insight into what awaits your discovery in Western Australia, should you find yourself motivated to take a sojourn. We are afraid that you will be extremely jealous upon viewing our pictures – HA!
Our last blog was from Broome, which geographically marked half way for our trip. Before leaving Broome we ventured 225kms north to Cape Leveque, a peninsula still within The Kimberley region. Camped at a remote "resort" (we use the word liberally) called Kooljaman we were able to take a boat trip to the Horizontal Falls which lie within the Buccaneer Archipelago – a mass of hundreds of small islands dotted in aqua waters where whales and their calves frolic.
The Buccaneer Archipelago lies across part of the top of The Kimberley, and gave us a real insight into this region’s natural and untouched beauty – you don’t see too much by car from the Gibb River Road (the only unsealed road that runs across The Kimberley). The Horizontal Falls are horizontal, rather than vertical las per all other waterfalls.
They are produced by a strong tidal current as one body of water passes through a narrow passage to another body of water. Due to a tidal difference of up to 13 meters between the 1st and 2nd bodies of water, the water becomes turbulent making its way through the passage and voila, you have horizontal waterfalls! Our boat was powered by 4x V8 engines with many something horsepower, and all passengers screamed with glee as it repeatedly passed through this turbulent, narrow passage way at high speed.
Unfortunately, the mining companies are already alive and well in the Buccaneer Archipelago as we passed two islands carved away for their iron ore – it seems nothing is sacred when mining companies gain access to such precious areas in return for the taxes they pay to the relevant government body. Save The Kimberley now, see www.savethekimberley.com
Karijini National Park is the 2nd largest NP in Western Australia and is one of the most spectacular sights in the Pilbara region. Walking trails (often very steep with loose rock and soil) lead deep into 7 breathtaking gorges with crystal clear pools and waterfalls.
The two most exciting gorges we explored (we did 5 of the 7) were named Weano and Hancock - these are gorges that require you to swim, scale rocky walls, slide, do 'the ‘spider’ above torrents of water in narrow passes and sit tranquilly listening to the trickle of pure water droplets seeping through the rocks.
One regretted not continuing with yoga classes as the extra agility would’ve been nice! Had we owned abseiling equipment, we could have slid and tumbled further into either gorge, and then swam along a waterway marking the joining of 5 gorges.
We did not expect such adventurous gorges demanding such climbing nous, having been accustomed to those we’d explored in The Kimberley which were typically marked with an easy walk and an enormous swimming hole at the end.
Karijini NP was absolutely amazing to explore, and one can only wonder what happens down each gorge during The Wet! The noise must be awe inspiring. It would be prudent to steer clear of these gorges just before The Wet - people have been drowned from the torrent of water that surges through from rain that fell unnoticed kilometres away.
Ningaloo Reef Marine Park lies on the Coral Coast, about 1000kms north of Perth running all the way north to Exmouth, a small town that is about to become big business with the development of a luxurious and contemporary marina (boo!). NIngaloo Reef itself is 400kms or so long. The outer reef is at most about 5kms off the coast at its furthest (large waves break onto hard coral heads out there), which means that snorkel opportunities abound directly off the beach as the waters are calm and aqua blue.
We experienced the reef from Cape Range National Park, which starts 36kms south of Exmouth and runs south for about 60kms down the west coast. Camped at the southern most point called Yardie Creek, we were able to kayak the 2.6kms to the outer reef nearby and explore the most magnificent, untouched, pristine coral bombies and coral gardens one could imagine.
The commercially accessible Great Barrier Reef is nothing compared to Ningaloo!
And to top it all off, the water is full of turtles! The fish life was rich and colourful, and being so far from shore they often looked at us like they’d never seen a snorkeller before! We swam amongst a school of huge bream, watched angelfish, butterfly fish, box fish, white and black tipped reef sharks (more scared of us than us of them), blue spotted stingrays, whales and so many other colourful fish we could not possibly recite (nor recall) their names! It was a real tropical fish tank.
Back on land by our tent we enjoyed the company of a club of small foxes (meant to be baited!), an echidna, ever hungry doves, wild emus and their very cute babies, kangaroos looking for water and long lizards (real name forgotten)!
The greatest hardship of living for 12 days at Yardie Creek was not the BYO H2O with the closest drinking water tap being 100kms away (which served as great crowd control), and nor was it the one pit toilet 15+ of us shared (thankfully very clean and sweet smelling) ….it was the bout of gusty, high wind that blew non-stop for 48 hours where using the car as a wind break and a lot of tent pegs became key to our survival! Our reward after this trial was lake-like still water that gave us brilliant visibility for snorkelling and the rich aqua waters you see in the photos. This is a top spot, and we will return one day to this area.
One a side note, we did an iron ore mine tour of another Rio Tinto mine, this one in a small town called Tom Price in the Pilbara region, population 4,000! Recall that we did a tour of the Rio Tinto bauxite mine in Weipa (QLD). We succeeded in standing alongside one of the enormous vehicles that cart the iron ore.
You can see in the picture how a normal 4wd Toyota Landcruiser is dwarfed by their size. We did become a little down cast at the ‘rape and pillaging’ of our planet once more, however when viewing the Pilbara region from up high (Mt Sheila and a night of sleeping under the stars on tarps!) these mines are but a speck in the pure largesse of the land. The only other attraction in Tom Price was the Coles supermarket, which eked the heady smell of fresh vomit by its front door for two days running. Delightful.
We will be sticking to the coast and heading to Perth as I in particular am scared of the heat inland! We’ll then beaver to the Margaret River (wine tasting here we come) and who knows after that. It’s getting colder (anything below 25c is cold to us) and we’ve had the first rain on the entire trip – thunder and lightening by the Gascoyne River (55kms inland from Carnarvon) which sounded good as it approached, but this stuff always ends in packing a wet tent caked in red mud the next morning, and thus invariably the lodging of complaints by myself!
Dusty Downloads, Over and Out
Amanda & Roelof Amandabeale75@yahoo.com.au
We've quietly popped into your inbox this week and come to you from World Heritage-listed Monkey Mia (part of Shark Bay, Western Australia), 100kms south of the Tropic of Capricorn. To roughly locate, draw a line from just below Rockhampton (QLD) right across Australia to the west coast. Famous for its seagrasses (largest seagrass banks in the world), hypersaline marine waters, stromatolites (first life-form on Earth from cyanobacteria growing in colonies which created the oxygen in the atmosphere which could then support life on Earth) and home to 6 endangered animals in Australia. Monkey Mia is also known for the feeding of the dolphins each morning and having 1/8th of the world’s dugong population. Quite a special spot, no wonder they charge an entry fee just to enter the village!