INDIAN OCEAN DRIVE TO PERTH
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
322Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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THURSDAY OCTOBER 28, 2010
Last night was spent at Cervantes and we had heard how spectacular the Pinnacles Desert was so this was on our agenda.
Nambung NP is home to the spectacular Pinnacles Desert and we arrived early morning to drive the 4km unsealed loop around the stark yellow sand and amazing limestone structures. The van managed the manoeuvres and with only 2 other vehicles in the park at 8am we felt we had this magic and strange place to ourselves. The cloudy sky was a pale grey contrast to the intense yellow and we were able to see the ocean just 5 kms away from the lookout.
After breakfast we spent time in the Discovery Centre with a lot of information about the structures, flora and fauna.
We had heard people wax lyrical about nearby Hangover Bay- "snorkeler's paradise" inside the national park and took the turn off expectedly; we met a German woman who was leaving the cool choppy water with her snorkel as we arrived, and she advised the water was murky with minimal clarity, definitely not good for snorkelling. Oh well we could return but she alas could not!! It was a stunning little bay!
Along the new section of the Indian Ocean Drive we admired the huge white sand dunes and were surprised to come across two “Shack Settlements” built into the beautiful coast- Wedge and Grey. The shacks made from recycled materials by farmers and fishermen in the 1930’s are holiday shacks for families from Perth and make a strange impact when you drive up to the entrance of the settlements.
Apparently there used to be many such settlements along the WA coast, now removed by councils and these are the last two. Some research indicated that the leases on the land expire next year and heated discussions are in progress about the long term prospects of the structures and community.
We checked out the tiny town of Lancelin perfect wind surfing and kite surfing destination so windy is good for these guys and there were a few around today. Backing onto the town are huge white sand dunes, where sand boarders test their skills but for us after a chat with the lady at the cottage that is an information centre we decided to hit the back roads inland and check out the monastery town of New Norcia.
The inland roads were quiet and presented us with beautiful wild flowers along the way.
New Norcia was established in 1846 by Spanish Benedictine monks as an aboriginal mission and we are reminded of stories of the “stolen generation” as we enter the town, bisected by the busy Great Northern Highway.
We park in the oval along with a few caravans and visit the New Norcia Hotel for dinner and a bottle of their Abbey Ale; the meal was mediocre and the ambience lacking and we noticed tables of mine employees tucking into big meals. The transportation of mining equipment rattles through the town on its way north and we imagine these guys stop off for a break here.
Unfortunately our free camping was disrupted until around 2am by these huge road trains speeding along the highway but after that we did get some sleep until around 8am. It had been a very cold and calm night and we had to find the doona for extra warmth.
We explored the interesting town, with its impressive architecture and functioning monastery, where you can join prayers with the monks 6 times a day. We were keen to buy the famous nut cake and wood fired oven bread at the Museum/gallery shop and after an inspection of religious mementos, mostly kitsch we found a park with table and chair and sampled our purchases.
Their regular retreats and very successful bakery along with tourism sustains the town today.
Back to the coast and Guilderton/Moore river caravan park which filled up on Friday night with Perth families camping out for the weekend.
We paid $35 for a spot in this neat and well run park and enjoyed the breaking of the banks of the Moore River overnight into the ocean; a local said the event is sometimes man made with someone scraping away the diminishing shore to free the flow! The caravan park is booked out for weekends until end of February according to the helpful receptionist who found us a site just for the night.
Our last stop before Perth was the unexpectedly scenic Quinns Rocks Caravan park; we had a site right above the shore with views of the surf club activities below and the beautiful Indian Ocean, all for $22 pn.; “we’ll be back!”
At this stage we are about an hours drive from Perth and on Sunday October 31st we continue along the coast passing stunning Perth beaches on a sunny morning. It’s been just a week since we started on the Turquoise Coast and even though the wind has impacted on our enjoyment of this gorgeous area we have appreciated the diversity: sheltered bays, windswept beaches, inland bush wild flowers, interesting towns and scenic roads.
We paid a quick visit to Yanchep National Park on our way to Quinns Rocks and photographed the koalas there; they are not native to the area but create a lot of interest.
We note that compared to the very populated East coast, this WA coast is minimally inhabited and you sometimes feel alone and remote as you travel around.
Beautiful and stunning! The only sad thing is WA is in serious drought and this impacts on farmers and town dwellers both. Let’s hope it rains hard soon!