Coast road return to Perth

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Where I stayed
Clive and Helens'
What I did
Coast road return to Perth

Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

 

After 2 weeks at Yardie Homestead we started our return journey to Perth. First we returned to Coral Bay and stayed 3 nights so we would have plenty of time to snorkel off the beach on the reef.

We did go out on a boat snorkelling excursion which was good. The morning snorkel was very pleasant with good coral and lots of turtles. After a sausage sizzle lunch, ( a little disappointing, one sausage in a bread roll ), we moored on the outer reef and could snorkel as close to where the breakers came over the edge of the reef as we were able. The skipper warned us that the currents didn't make sense as the wind was strong, and the high tide was coming in over the reef in the opposite direction to the wind. It was a fascinating snorkel as the underwater topography was unusual for us. The edge of the reef appears like a ridge along the top of a mountain range and then small gorges and sandy bottomed gulleys ran back towards the shore from the peaks. The breakers were so strong that we had to fin hard to stay in one place but the fish were so big it was worth the effort, and Jim saw a large shark. Eventually Jim's knee started to play up so we decided to return to the boat and then we realised exactly what the skipper had meant. We expected to drift back on the tide but within metres of turning around the current was even more strongly against us. It took some time and a lot of effort to get back to the boat. Not surprisingly we had a nap when we returned to the van.

During the sail back we were offered the chance to “boomnet”, which I had never heard of. It is holding on to a cargo net being towed along at the back of the catamaran. It was fun but unsettling when my swimsuit stated to rotate around my body.

This is the time of year to ride out and snorkel or watch the whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean, which can grow up to 7 or 8 metres. We would have loved to do that trip but for both of us to go would have cost us approximately 600. It is overpriced for a few hours boat ride, partly because of the current exchange rate but more importantly it is inflated by the oil company which is active to the north of Exmouth and which is (so we were told) paying huge retainers to boat owners so distorting the local economy and allowing boat owners to ask what they want for the boat trips. Even if we could afford it somehow it seemed obscene to pay so much. Having said that the boats (there are only a few so no competition) were full all over the school holidays. Western Australia is a very rich state.

From Coral Bay it was an interesting drive to Kalbarri, where the Murchison River enters the sea. The very small town is pretty and has lots to see. Unfortunately the flies were such a nuisance that even with fly nets it was unpleasant being outside. So we booked a short flight on a 8 seat Cessna to see the river gorges and the sea cliffs. There were only 4 passengers. It seemed amazingly good value after the expensive trips further north. However, the plane was a little ramshackle, with a dodgy door, and the young pilot appeared very nervous and inexperienced, sweating profusely even though we did not think it was hot. His scrappy checklist pinned above his seat did nothing to increase our confidence but it was a good flight, apart from the flies that even managed to get in the plane.

Our last night travelling bck to Perth was in Cervantes, adjacent to the Pinnacles Desert, a weird landscape. The following day we stopped at the Yanchep National Park. It has surprised us that, unlike in New Zealand, there is no evidence of Aborigine culture or language in the tourist information or at different sites. In fact, just from our experience to date Aborigines here are invisible so we were pleased to find that Yanchep offered a one hour Aboriginal Experience. We paid our 10 dollars (very cheap in comparison to everything else) and went to the meeting point. No-one arrived. Eventually I returned to the Visitor Centre to find that the usual presenters were sick and the stand-in had not turned up. We were the only ones booked on it. The staff were very apologetic, refunded our money and gave us complimentary tickets to do the Crystal Cave tour instead. I hope we have the chance to learn more about Aboriginal culture in Northern Territory.

A note about language differences: The word Manchester is used in NZ and here too in a very unexpected way. I first noticed in NZ when I saw a sign, “Manchester Half Price”. As an almost Mancunian I was worried, until Beverley explained that Manchester refers to bedding and household linens. It still surprises me to see Manchester being offered for sale.

Tomorrow we start our trek to the Red Centre.
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