Well as has become
us we ended up
staying a few
days longer than we planned in Jurien Bay and saw a few more sights.
Our first visit
was off to Lake Thetis to see a couple of stromatolites. This is one of
the few sites in the world where living stromatolites can be found,
occurring as domes of limestone around the edge of the lake. These guys
are formed by the activity of microbial communities trapping and
binding sediment and precipitating calcium carbonate from the water.
The dominant microbes are known as blue-green algae. These
stromatolites are very slow growing and these are more than 1,200 years
old. As you can imagine this was the highlight of the kids day. The
adults on the other hand found it all very fascinating.
Next stop was off to
which is only
about 10 kms north of Jurien Bay.
The kids were more excited about this part of the day because we were going to try out Wayne's sandboard on some of the dunes there. The first thing we discovered was a great camping spot right on the beach with new toilet blocks. This place was not mentioned in any of the camping books we have, and we later discovered the reason was because this is a very new council camp area. Had we known about it we would have stayed there a few nights instead of extending at Jurien Bay. Wayne had the bright idea of driving down the beach to check out the dunes. As it looked like a fair old walk his idea sounded good until .....bogged!! Wayne then came to our rescue and ....bogged!! It wasn't actually too bad and we did manage to get ourselves out by simply letting down the tyres a little. 40 psi in soft sand just doesn't do it. The kids were excited as they frantically dug the sand away from the tyres. Once we had freed ourselves from our sandy capture we went the other way and found some good dunes to attempt to toboggan down.
saw Wayne back off to the drawing board. Nevertheless the boys had a
ball rolling, running and jumping down the dunes. The next day it was
goodbye to Jurien Bay as we headed off slightly inland to Ellendale
This lovely council
about 30 kms
Greenough. It is situated on the Greenough River and as you can see in
the photos is surrounded by very tall cliffs that literally glowed at
sunset. We found a nice spot right on the river edge and got the kayak
off the car and over the next few days we all spent many hours
exploring the river. The rest of our time was spent relaxing and doing
journal work. It was a well deserved break in what has been a very busy
On our way to Geraldton we were all fascinated by the leaning trees that are common in the Greenough area. As you can see from the photos below they really have a serious lean. Now why do these Eucalyptus do this? While in the area we had two different explanations given to us. The first was that because these trees are so close to the ocean, the salt builds up on the branches and leaves and becomes so heavy that the tree starts to lean. Theory 2 is that these particular trees are very affected by the prevailing wind. This constant wind burns off the foliage on the windward side making the tree lean due to the weight of the foliage on the other side of the tree. I think the latter theory is a little more believable, but hey, what would I know.
As we had planned to
meet up with
Wayne and Tracey
Geraldton we didn't have to do our usual drive around so straight off
to Sunset Beach Caravan Park. We only ended up staying for 3 nights as
our desire to move further north was strong so we had a few busy days
ahead of us.
Our first port of call was one of the local Crayfish processing factories (they are called rock lobsters as the yanks have another crustacean called something similar). What an amazing set up this is. This factory is a co-operative owned and operated by 160 fishermen. Cray fishing accounts for 40% of the whole fishing industry in dollar terms in WA. 98% of the WA crayfish are exported mostly alive to China, Taiwan and Japan. The average price for a crayfish in a restaurant in China is $200-00 AUD .The crayfish season is from mid November until the end of June and is heavily monitored by the Dept of Fisheries. For a cray to be legal size it is at least 7 yrs old with the bigger ones being around 14 yrs old.
They claim that this is the most sustainable industry in WA which is a little hard to believe when you see the number of boats out every day and the number of years a crayfish takes to reach legal size. In this factory they keep the crayfish alive in large tanks from between 3 days to 3 weeks during which time they are not fed to purge them. At any given time they have over $5 million dollars of crayfish in the tanks ready to be packaged and exported. Most are exported alive and this is done by putting them in an ice slurry that puts them off to sleep and then put in foam boxes surrounded by pine shavings and ice. At their destination they are placed back into water and hey presto 99% of them wake up again before finally being thrown into pots of boiling water at restaurants.
Our next stop was the
is one of
the many weather observation centres around the state and Australia.
The role of these centres is simply to collect weather data from
a number of different sources including weather balloons and then input
it into the National super computer as well as the global weather
system that then gives us our weather
forecasts. Without a doubt these guys have a good life. It would very
much be a stress free existence, be it I imagine a little boring on
own all day. The weather balloons are launched 3 times a day and we
were there for the 1.30pm event.
The guy was very informative and took us through the complete process as well as giving the kids some great weather and cloud posters and the GPS transmitter from the weather balloon. Alex was very excited to have this $220-00 piece of electronics that now has pride of place in his toy box. These are the things they will remember forever.
So the next few days
was spent doing
shopping and checking out the town. The WA museum has a lovely new
in town and we spent a few hours there finding out all about the local
history including the ship
wreck of the Dutch ship the "Batavia' in 1629 just off the coast of
Geraldton. It was in fact a very
blood-thirsty end for the crew and all the passengers who were murdered
by a handful of mutineers.
At sunset we went to the HMAS Sydney memorial on the hill in the middle of town. In 1941 the HMAS Sydney was returning to Perth from active duty with 645 crew when it was engaged in battle with a German destroyer that was disguised as a merchant ship. Both ships were destroyed in the battle and there were no survivors. As part of the memorial they have erected a large metal dome made up of 645 seagulls representing each of the men who died defending these shores. It was a really lovely vantage point for the sunset and a fitting end to our stay in this city.
When you are on the
road there is
always the odd
place that you
constantly keep hearing about from other travelers. One such place is
Situated only 30 kms North of Geraldton this is one of the best campgrounds we have come across yet. This council run campground is right on a beautiful beach with an inshore reef running out to sea at 45%. This beach is recognized world wide as a windsurfing and kite surfing spot, and hosts some world class competitions. The amenities were both new and state of the art and numbered about 6 scattered throughout the camp. A camp host is on site and they both manage the camp as well as empty the bins and clean the amenities. And all this costs you the princely sum of $5-00 per night per family. Unbelievable.
We spent 4 nights
there and had a
time doing a
little journal work, snorkeling, paddling and catching waves in the
kayak and lying on the beach. We scored one of the best sites in the
campground and Tracey, Wayne and Bailey were close by which made Harry
pleased, and us of course.
Leaving here was as difficult as it was to leave Lucky Bay and although a little sad, the excitement of what lay ahead gave us all the incentive to get packed up and move on. Our next stop was to visit one of the most bizarre places we have yet seen and one of the places that was on my personal must see list.
Whenever you hear
people talk of
this place or
especially about the
man himself, Prince Leonard, words like nutter, eccentric or tax
are often used. Don't get me wrong, I thought he was a few poppers
short of a party too. To visit his dust bowl and very run down empire
little sad but to listen to Prince Leonard and to understand why he did
what he did was inspiring. This is a man we should all admire and not
run down like most people do. This is a man who had a dream and was not
going to let anyone, not even the Western Australian Govt take that
So what of the man
himself. There is
no doubt in
my mind that
is eccentric, in fact very eccentric. A nutter, far from it. There is
also little doubt that he is a genius and his academic achievements
beginnings in Kalgoorlie are impressive. His main areas of interest are
mathematics and physics. He has written scores of papers and many
books on both subjects and is happy to talk about or show them to you.
He really loves to talk, talk and talk. He has worked with NASA and has
spoken at many universities. Since 1970 his other area of expertise,
more through necessity than desire is law, both Australian and
I will endeavour to
story from the
information he gave
us and what I read from many of the articles published about him.
It all began in 1970
Govt introduced the wheat
quota. This hard working rural family, located 550 kms north of
Perth owned and operated a 27,000 acre wheat station. When the
wheat quota was released their allocation was 100 acres. What that
meant in real terms was that he could only sell the wheat from 100
acres with the remaining crop being ploughed back into the ground. He
wrote to the wheat board in an attempt to get his quota
increased but without success. Being the man he is, he wasn't
back down and was relentless in this requests and his objections to the
Govt of the day.
It is then alleged that in an attempt to silence this man that was rapidly becoming a real pain in their butt, the Western Australian Govt tried to rush a new bill through parliament which would give the Govt the power to permanently acquire rural land for any reason. Leonard believes this bill was being passed to remove him permanently from the land and therefore remove any more embarrassment to the Govt. Who knows, perhaps he was right.
He thought there must be a solution so out came the books. He discovered a ruling in International law that said he was 'entitled to secede and form his own self-preservation Govt if under threat of having his economy or land taken away from him'.
So on April 21st 1970 Len sent a letter to the Governor-General stating that he had seceded from Australia and his land was now a republic. That was OK until he then discovered that with the Queen as Australia's Sovereign he had left himself open to be charged with treason. Again out came the books.
This time he found a forgotten 17th century law that stated that a prince that still regarded the Queen as Sovereign couldn't be charged with treason. He then gave himself the title of Prince and turned the Hutt River Province into a Principality.
His country now
recognition from a body like the United Nations. So in August of 1977
sent a letter to the Governor-General declaring war on Australia. I can
imagine that he caused quite a laugh in Parliament. Three days later he
sent another letter stating the war was over. What the Govt of the day
didn't realise was that he had uncovered another International Law that
stated that if a national emerged undefeated from war, that Nation was
entitled to be shown full respect and recognition as an independent
nation. So Prince Leonard had won the battle. He had outwitted the
Government at every turn and his property was no longer under threat.
So out of necessity he created his own country. He pays no taxes, pays no GST. He has his own currency and stamps. Letters can be posted using his stamps and have the same reciprocal rights as any other country. He has Government offices, a church and is in the process of building a VIP reception centre. He has 19 Ambassadors throughout the world, 13,000 residents (only 30 of which live on the property), has his own small army, passports and number plates. This truly is a small land locked country within Australia.
Call him what you may- I for one call him a survivor.
ended up spending the night in one of his back paddocks (for
free) and really enjoyed our 'Out of Australia' experience. Over 27,000
people visit his country each year. He charges NO admission and gives
you a personal tour and will afford you as much time as you want. He is
a man not about money but about principles. He does have a small
souvenir shop which is very reasonably priced (and with no GST), and
like most people we did buy a few things. Now taking pride of place in
our caravan is my 'Hutt River Province" stubby cooler. Here's cheers
to you Prince Leonard.
This is a small town
that we passed
through on our
way to Kalbarri.
It was about morning tea time so we stopped in a lovely little park
complete with playground and had a cuppa. Last month I said that for
such a big country Australia really is a very small place. Well it
happened again. A good friend of ours from Brisbane, Dave Stevens flew
over to Perth and was driving to Coral Bay for a fishing trip and you
guessed it, drove straight past us. The next part you might not
believe. Here we are 14,000 kms into our trip, miles from home and the
bastard didn't stop. He saw us and didn't stop!!! Maybe he is trying to
tell us something. He did ring and used the excuse that he was in a
convoy with 5 other cars, wasn't driving and the others wouldn't stop.
Sure Stevens, sure.
Dead set what are the
being at the same
place at the same time on the other side of Australia. Freaky!!
This is a place we
have heard so
Unfortunately that is
not always a positive thing as everyone's taste is different and some
places that have been really talked up have turned out to be a little
disappointing. Not this time. Kalbarri is a very cute seaside village.
It is situated on the mouth of the Murchison River and has some very
spectacular coastline and amazing gorges close by. There are some big
developments in the town area that have been tastefully done and don't
impact negatively on the area. There are 3 large caravan parks in town
and we would have been happy to stay at any of them. We chose 'The
Murchison River Caravan Park' for no reason other than it was centrally
located. We stayed 4 nights and managed a little down time as well as
plenty of sightseeing and walking.
Our first day was spent washing clothes after 6 days free camping and generally cleaning up. Not a heap of fun but even on holidays some jobs just have to get done. At about 3-30pm I realise the next day was Mothers Day. After a moment of panic I threw Alex in the car and took off to the 6 shops hoping for a miracle. It would appear that sending Alex to a Catholic school has paid off yet again for a miracle unfolded in front of us. A gift shop that was open!!!!!! We found a lovely shirt with Kalbarri embroided on it (which ended up not fitting but that's another story), then off to the pub for a bottle of Champagne and to Supa Value for chocolates. A major disaster averted.
And so 2006 Mother's
Day on the road
Breakfast in bed
compliments of Alex (well she's not my mother!) and the gifts opened.
We then went for a short drive slightly south on the coast
road. This is some truly spectacular coast line very similar to the
Bunda Cliffs on the Nullarbor. There are about 8 different vantage
points with great viewing platforms and hundreds of photo
opportunities. Thank God for digital cameras. For dinner on Mothers Day
we went to 'Finlays Seafood Barbeque'. This outdoor
restaurant is a bit of an icon and a place that Mum visited many
years ago. She must have told us about it 50 times (I think she might
be losing it sometimes) so we had to go. And what great advice it was
(see you should always listen to your mother). To say it was unique
would be an understatement. It sort of looked like Steptoe's back yard
with a few old tables (was that your name carved in that table Mum?)
scattered around. You get no service, no tablecloths, no glasses
toilet rolls for napkins but you do get great seafood at an even better
price. A group of us went from the park and had lots of laughs. No
pomp, no ceremony and with the chief throwing insults, that's my sort
restaurant. (A ditty was yelled out with every order number - no.
8, get off ya date!!)
Monday morning bright
which is early for
us lately) we were in the car and off to Kalbarri National Park to see
Nature's Window and Z bend. There is also an 8 km+ walk along the ridge
of the gorge and then down into the gorge. It was a rated moderate walk
with lots of climbing and scrambling over rocks. Chris and I have
bought new hiking boots and were keen to give them a go. The question
how would Harry go? His longest walk yet is 6 kms. So off we went. The
scenery was impossible to describe, the walk was difficult and the boys
did it with ease. Not one complaint, not one whinge. Me on the other
hand!! We ended up walking 12 kms for the day (due to the fact in some
places there were no defined paths and we took the long way) and
took us nearly 4 hours but it was well worth it. We were very proud of
the boys. Home by about 4-00pm to put our feet up for a well deserved
Next day we packed up, spent 1/2 the day in the park opposite the caravan park and then set off in the general direction of Denham. We pulled into a nice roadside free camp at about 4-00pm, had a fire and an early night in preparation for the next leg of our journey into Denham and Monkey Mia. We have been told by lots of people than Denham is a pretty little spot but that Monkey Mia is very overrated.One thing we have learnt on this trip is to listen to others, but to keep an open mind.
The great thing about
free camps is
that its early
to bed and early
to rise. On our way to Denham there were a couple of places we wanted
visit. Our first stop was to Hamelin Pool. This place is famous
amongst the scientific community for it's stromatolites, which are
important as they produce oxygen, which can be seen as thousands of
small bubbles. Due to the very high salinity of the ocean in this
area very few sea snails can survive to graze on the Cyanobacteria
which build these structures of various shapes and sizes. The
stromatolites have survived here for over 5,000 years and are related
to the original guys that first appeared on Earth some 3.5 billion
years ago. It's thanks to the original stromatolites who expanded in
numbers and released more and more oxygen eventually raising the oxygen
level to 20% of all atmospheric gases that air breathing life forms
evolved. The waters are pristine and these things are amazing. This is
the second time we have encountered them, the first at Cervantes, but
these are much larger and more impressive. Next time you take a breath
spare a thought for these guys, for they are the reason you are here.
Hamelin Pool is also the site of one of the old telegraph stations that linked Australia to Australia as well as overseas, and we did a tour of the original building that is very much today as it was in the late 1800's. This was the best $5.00 we have spent in a long time and the guy was not only humorous but also a wealth of knowledge. Alex found it all really fascinating.
For such a small place there was a mountain of things to see. This area is also home to Coquina blocks. What, I here you say!! This too is amazing. The beaches in this area consist of trillions of very small shells or Cardid cockles that have been deposited on these beaches for the past 6,000 years. Small quantities of Calcium Carbonate within the shell dissolves in rainwater and then dries to become a white crystal that binds the shells together (Coquina). Early settlers in this area had little timber or rock to build with so coquina provided a solution. Excavated with a crosscut saw these shell blocks were used to construct many of the early buildings (see picture above).These blocks are extremely porous and while not 100% water proof do allow very good air flow.
There is also a nice little caravan park attached which is not flash but is cheap and honest (my new terminology for cheap, clean and good value).
Our next stop only a
few kms down
the road and
just inside the
"Shark Bay World Heritage Area' is Shell Beach. As you would have
guessed the whole beach consists of the same small cockle shells that
the blocks are made from.
We had fun digging,
the mountains of
shells on this beautiful beach. This makes a nice change from the
countless beautiful sandy beaches that we have encountered so far in WA.
As it was getting late
we headed off
to check out
a few free camps
only a couple of kms out of Denham. We ended up staying at a little
beach called 'Fowlers Bay'. And what a spot it was. The van only a few
metres from the beach with only a couple of other vans there. We had
time to throw out a line and Chris even caught a few fish. 'Australia
is such a small place' struck again. Not long after we had set up a guy
wandered past. Noticing the 'Bundaberg' sticker on the back of the van
he came over for a chat. He asked where we lived. Upon telling him Buss
St, he said that's not far from my daughter and son-in-law. And who
that be, Christine and Jack Dempsey who we know well. It strikes again.
We set off
bright and early
'Denham Seaside Tourist Village' without doing the normal caravan park
drive around. We did this for a couple of reasons. The first was that
we met and actually had lunch with the owners of this park at the Perth
Caravan Show, and said
that we would come and stay, and also because we had arranged to meet
again with Tracey and Wayne. This is a really lovely, well managed,
clean and tidy park that is built on 4 levels with each level having
great ocean views. Denham itself is a small seaside village with
it's main claim to fame being that it is only 23 km from Monkey Mia and
Francois Peron National Park. Our first day was spent doing a few
domestic chores and then checking out town.
The next morning it was out of bed by 6-00am and off to the much maligned 'Monkey Mia' by 7-30am. This place seems to get a lot of negative comments from other travelers for being over controlled and very touristy. Well I must say that I too was very sceptical about the whole Monkey Mia experience and it wouldn't have worried me if I had missed it. Well, I was wrong again. Once again it has proved that although you need to listen to others you need to go in with an open mind and form your own opinion.
So what is it really
like. There is
Monkey Mia except for a
low key resort, a sensational beach, non-commercialized solitude and a
boat ramp. The dolphin feeding is conducted from the front
of the resort. The resort is very nice and blends in well with
the surrounds and has a casual but classy feel about it. It has
everything you could want, a well stocked shop, pool, tennis court,
bar, restaurants, water craft for hire and the best camp kitchen we
have seen yet. As a day user you have free use of all the facilities.
The caravan section is part of the resort and is also excellent. Plenty
toilet blocks and good sized sites, some of which are right on the
beach. Chris and I both commented that you really feel like you are on
an island. We could happily stay there for a week or longer and would
have to say that this is definitely the place to stay at when in the
Denham area. It is also very reasonably priced at $26-00 a night.
And that brings us to the dolphin feeding. By 7-30 am there were about 5 dolphins and 50 people in the water. The ranger and volunteer staff ensure you don't go too deep into the water and give a very good commentary. The dolphins come in very shallow and even rub up against the legs of some people. You are very close to them at all times, sometimes only inches away. They seem just as interested in us as we are of them. They keep the dolphins there for about 1/2 hr before feeding them. By feeding time there were 8 dolphins. The amount of fish that each dolphin gets is weighed and each dolphin gets an amount relative to their size. They only feed females and their female offspring (bit of a sexist turnout).
When the feeding begins you are asked to move out of the water and people are chosen to feed them. As each dolphin gets about 4 fish each that is about 32 people who get to feed them. This is repeated another two times over the morning so close to a 100 people get a go. Children are always picked first followed by women and ugly, grumpy old men don't get a look in. As you may have guessed everyone in the family except me got a go.
To be honest this is very well run and anybody who complains about it in any way must be very difficult to please.
The next day we set
off to Francois
and Tracey (safety in numbers). This is a 4x4 track through some pretty
rugged country and
is a full day. Our first stop not far out of town was the original
'Homestead' complete with museum and hot artesian spa. The spa was
hot but the kids gingerly got in anyway, coming out looking like cooked
lobsters. We then slowly made our way to Cape Peron, Skipjack Point and
Bottle Bay. Cape Peron was the pick of them with blood red coloured
sand spewing down from the hills and meeting the
white sand of the beach. It really was very spectacular.
This was worth using the extra 50 litres of diesel to see. On our way home we decided to have a quick look at Herald Bight. Well 1/2 way down this very sandy, narrow and hilly track we came upon a car towing a campa trailer being towed out by another vehicle. When we got to them they were both bogged and the sun was setting. Let me tell you their wives did not look impressed. I attempted to tow them out but that wasn't going to work. Our next plan was to disconnect the campa trailer, tow out the two cars then either Wayne or myself tow out the trailer. It was pretty well dark by the time we finally got them out which meant us getting home very late as we still had about 30km left to go. They were extremely grateful for our help as their only other option was to sleep on the track overnight and hope for help the next day. To be honest Wayne and I had a ball and we scored a few beers out of it.
We actually enjoyed
the Monkey Mia
much that we
decided to go back again. Instead of doing another day trip we decided
to relocate the van to the resort caravan park. That was a good move.
Again we were there by 7-30am for the feeding, had the van set up by
9-00am and then had the rest of the day to enjoy the resort facilities.
By about midday all the day trippers had left and this magnificent
beach was all ours.
And live it up we did.
First we went
to the pool
and the kids had a
swim (bit chilly for the oldies). Then it was to the beach to hire a
couple of motorised glass bottom boats. The boys drove while we laid
down and watched the passing parade. Harry was the Captain of my vessel
and we went everywhere flat out. In fact we were going so fast I
couldn't see a thing except bubbles. It would appear that seeing
anything was not on his agenda.Whenever I asked him to slow down he
told me he was trying to get away from the pirates. Can't argue with
that. He was having a ball and I am sure his giggles could be heard all
over the resort.
Next it was off to the resort bar for a cappuccino while the boys played on the beach. We might be trailer trash but we aren't roughing it, let me tell you.
To get to Denham /Monkey Mia is a significant detour off the main highway heading either North or South, but was an experience we thoroughly enjoyed and am very glad we made the effort. My advice is don't miss it.
Our next stop is Carnarvon for a quick stopover and restock and then onto Coral Bay.
Carnarvon is not the
town on the WA
coast so this was
only going to be an overnighter mainly to restock the food supplies.
Chris was excited at the thought of getting some cheaper Carnarvon
bananas. We had a drive around town, did the shopping and then went for
drive just out of town to North and South River roads to buy some fruit
and veg at the roadside stalls. We stumbled upon a banana farm owned
and operated by a young couple. She was really lovely and spent ages
talking to us about the banana industry and how tough it has been for
them over the last few years. Due to the recent cyclone in Nth Qld and
the devestation that occurred, especially to the banana industry these
guys have had a bit of a windfall. They are currently getting $105-00 a
box for bananas compared to $25 to $30 a box last year. In fact things
had got so bad for them that they were going to have to sell up, with
this year's crop buying them a little more time. It was a fascinating
insight into an industry we know nothing about.
Next morning we set off this time for a place a little more exciting- Coral Bay.
We were pretty excited
to Coral Bay,
home of the huge
whale sharks. For years it was one of my goals on this trip to do a
snorkel with these gentle majestic creatures of the deep. Well more
about that later. Once again we had planned to meet up with Wayne
and Tracey and by chance another family (Jane, Bryan and kids)
were also here. That normally means lots of laughs and us getting in
trouble at 9-00pm for being to noisy. Bryan is very noisy and a bad
influence on us all!!
Now this joint reeks with appeal from the second you drive into it. It is very touristy and full of backpackers but it hasn't been spoilt, not yet anyway. This place is small. Two caravan parks, a pub and a very small shopping centre consisting of a couple of shops. The beach is nice, not spectacular but nice and the surrounding country side pleasant. So what is the appeal then I here you say. I'm not really sure but it certainly is a place you don't want to leave in a hurry. I think relaxed would sum it up. Everyone either walks (most with very little clothing on) or rides quad bikes. There are hundreds of quad bikes all over the place. There must either be no cops in town or if there is they must be very casual. Nobody wears helmets on the quads, they all have at least 3 people hanging off them and they ride them around all night with not a light to be seen.
The caravan park we
stayed in (the
first one for
those that have
been here) was great and fairly well priced considering it's location.
It was also very busy but not jam-packed. The only down side would
be the water (in the park). They say it's bore water but I think sea
water would be
closer to the truth. No plugging your water hose into the van here. Now
showering in hot
sea water is something we hadn't experienced before. Salty, very very
salty. It doesn't do a lot for your hair, believe me.
So back to the whale
and Exmouth are
the only places
to see the whale sharks from on the West coast and off I went to find
out more. As far as the season went our timing was spot on. Pretty well
the middle of the season so should be good. Well, it would seem that
although these guys are huge there are a couple of things they don't
first is cyclones and the other is killer whales or Orcas. As you are
aware this part of the world was hammered by cyclones this year, the
upside for us being the metres of rain that fell has now created a
beautiful green landscape with gorges and rivers flowing like they
haven't for years. The down side is that whale shark numbers are down.
The second whammy was that in the last few weeks a number of pods of
killer whales have been hanging around, thus scaring the whale sharks
The result of that is a slighty more unpredictable chance of actually seeing one. I was in quite a dither. It is expensive at $330-00 per person with the opportunity to go back again the next day if you miss out. We spoke to plenty of people including Bryan who went, saw and absolutely loved it. I also spoke to others who went out twice and saw nothing. $330-00 to float around for 2 full days for little outcome, what do you do?? Had the season been better I would have gone, no question, but for this trip at least it wasn't going to happen, not for me anyway. I am happy with my decision and gives me another reason to come back (like we needed a reason). As you can see above I did get to have a short swim with one and it didn't cost me a cent!!!!
Instead we decided to do a 1/2 day quad bike and snorkelling adventure tour. Double quads with the boys on the back. I'm not sure who was more excited, the boys or me. So the next day off we went to collect the beasts. This was a seriously fun trip. We rode for 25 km on some awesome sand tracks and along the beach to get to our first snorkelling spot, the Lagoon. This spot is renowned for turtles and Alex was keen to see one. He is getting really good at snorkelling and can't get enough of it. Off we went while Harry played in the sand and luck was on our side as not long into the snorkel, a turtle swam by. I thought Alex was going to eat the snorkel he was so excited.
From the beach it did not look very impressive, but it did look very protected and very safe for the kids. So in we went. This little patch of the Indian ocean was breathtaking. I have never seen such a concentration of corals, fish and anenomes. Chris and I both said it was one of the best snorkels we have ever had. It was just like swimming in the most magnificent aquarium you could imagine.We saw a wobbygong shark, octopus and more clown fish than we have ever seen. The giant clams were exactly that, giant and the most magnificent colours, all this and you didn't have to kick your legs once, just drift along. This is a place we will have to come back to before leaving Coral Bay.
It was then back on the bikes for the adrenaline rush ride home. Chris was riding like an expert and I think she had the most fun out of us all.
We went to the pub for
was a hoot
(shame they are
pulling it down to build a resort) and then back to the van to do a bit
of tidying up ready to move on. Leaving here was tough. It is a great
holiday destination, it's fun, it's vibrant and a place where you can
really relax and let your hair down.
The next day it was off to Exmouth for an overnighter then onto Cape Range National Park. The others had planned to go in the same direction so we all made our way there together.
We have been on the
road now for 6
months and in
that time have had
one day of drizzly rain. Well today it poured. Unfortunately the trip
was fairly action packed, but unfortunately the sort of action we could
do without. Let me explain. On the way we were
passed by another caravan that threw up a few large rocks at us, with
two hitting the windscreen resulting in two huge bullseyes and a crack
that is now a foot long and growing. No windscreen repairers out here
drill it. Then we pulled into the Information Centre to fill up the van
and discovered we had lost one of the water filling caps. Great. Next
it was off to the caravan park about 20km out of Exmouth on the way to
Cape Range. It was
the first time we had to set the van up in the rain and we got soaked!
Then we opened up the van to find water pouring in through the
air conditioner. I couldn't believe it, three dramas all within 1 hour.
Luckily Bryan owns a caravan business and he quickly fixed the problem
for us. The air conditioner simply needed to be re-Stightened which was
done from inside the van and presto, all dry again. Rain, rocks, lost
caps and leaking roofs, today had it all. After we had set up all the
men did a quick drive to Cape Range to pick the best camp ground as
there are 8 to choose from.
Well it rained and rained and the weather forecast didn't look too good. We decided to push onto Cape Range the next day regardless while the others planned to sit it out and see what the weather did.
Our first choice of campgrounds was 'Pilgramunna' and due to the horrible weather we could choose any camp ground we wanted. Normally this is not the case and the choice can be very limited. Normally around now and through July people start lining up at the gate at 5-00pm and sleep there hoping to get a site, any site the next day. We had three positions we could choose from out of the eight in this particular camp, and decided on the one at the end for a bit of privacy.
As far as camp sites go this is 15 out of 10. This is the best we have ever seen and can't imagine we will ever find one better. We camped on the beach in the most breathtaking bay. The camp hosts, John and Shirley are sensational and made our stay so much more enjoyable. The pit toilet was spotless and totally odour free. The day we arrived was the first of the big tides for the month and within an hour of setting up we were surrounded by water. John assured us we would stay dry and we did, just. The car was imprisoned for the duration of the high tide with us all keeping a close eye on the proceedings
Before I go on I would
like to share
a little bit
with you. In this area the 'American Air force' have a solar
facility. These guys observe the sun all day using a large
telescope looking for solar flares that may effect GPS readings that
are used in most weapons these days. And why is this facility right
here in Exmouth?? The answer is simple. This area has more sunlit
days than anywhere else in the world and they average 364 sunny days a
year. We camped on this beach for 7 days and never saw a sunny day.
Locals who have lived here for 35 years or more have never seen cloudy
weather hang around like this. We couldn't believe how lucky we were to
be here for a once in 40 year event!!!!!!
Well the sun did try and stick it's nose through every so often, but alas cloudy it was going to be. It did rain a little but not enough to be annoying.
So when camped right on the famous 'Ningaloo Reef' one must snorkel and we did. As far as shore snorkelling goes it is probably on par with the Great Barrier reef. We didn't see a huge amount of coral but plenty of big fish. Next trip I will do a few dives and have a really good look at it all.
About mid way through
our stay at
Cape Range we
did the 75 km trip
back into Exmouth to have a look around and get a few supplies and
water. It's a funny sort of a place and not what we really expected.
There is a nice little shopping mall with a good range of shops. It has
a couple of caravan parks in town and most other services you
would need. I thought it would be on the ocean which it isn't, and
thought it would be very cute. Well I hate to be harsh but the only
thing it really has going for it is that Cape Range National Park is
close. The locals love the town and it does seem to have a very strong
community spirit. That is really what makes a place. The mighty
"Progress" even has it's claws in out here with a canal estate in the
process of being built. It looks very out of place and blends in as
much as the Eiffel Tower would in Childers. The word is that they are
having trouble selling them so hang on a while and you might get a
bargain. Before you rush off to buy one though, remember this place is
very long way from anywhere.
In all we stayed in
7 nights and
could have easily
stayed a month. We had a few lay days and really caught up on some
things that we had fallen behind on. All this and it only cost us
$12-00 a day for the family. Once again had it not been for the
generator we would have had to leave early due to the clouds.
We would have really have loved to see this place with the sun shining brightly, and with 364 sunny days a year, next time the odds are that we will.
Well it's very hard to
that is it for
May.We have all seen so much, learnt so much and lived so much.
Southern part of WA was absolutely beautiful and we all hoped that we
had not seen the best part of the state first. Well those concerns were
unfounded. From Perth north is outstanding and we are still 1,300kms
from Broome. The landscape is so diverse, so harsh and so
We are all travelling
completed 17,406 kms) and hope you guys are also well.
Thanks again to those who have made the effort to keep in touch. We
have not been able to ring people lately as we have had no digital
phone reception since leaving Geraldton. We have been through plenty of
towns where you can get digital reception but only if you are with
Telstra. Optus is completely useless out here. That's a shame because
Optus is our provider. The CDMA continues to give us brilliant service
in most places, but unfortunately no 'Free Time'.
Until next month.