A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: pkd064

Day 79 - Perth, here we come!

Goodbye Jess and co


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It's 7:10am and we've been on the road for about 15 minutes. We're zipping along right beside the sea looking out at some small waves breaking onto rocks. If you were a surfer you probably could go out but it's not great conditions and, no doubt, there are probably a few chaps with large jaws and many pointy teeth out there too!

We're travelling roughly south south east to get to the bottom of the Kalbarri NP...and now I know why. We've just seen the coastal cliffs with a pillar and bridge formation reminiscent of the features on the Great Ocean Road.

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Now it's a 90 minute drive to the 440 roadhouse where we'll have a liquids stop.

South of Yallabatharra (fancy that - my phone doesn't recognise that word) the road turned inland toward Northampton and the countryside has turned from scrubby coastal flats to rolling green pastural land.

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Because our journey, as a group, is nearing its end, each of us is writing a little thank you in Jess' journal.

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After a quick drink the roadhouse is receding in the distance. Lookout! A traffic light! Jess looks a bit uncertain about what she's meant to do...by her reckoning the last time Karen and I would have seen one would have been Katherine in NT which is 3420km away from Geraldton by the route recommended by Google Maps and much further by our circuitous path.

It's clear that it gets a little windy near a town called Greenough...

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...which is just a dot on the map about mid-morning on our way to Jurien Bay where we are going to go sand boarding.

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That was a lot of fun! The dunes were steep, the boards were fast, particularly if you applied too much wax, and I convinced Karen that I had battery problems with my phone and missed taking a video of her first 2 rides so she had to walk back up the dunes and do it again and again...but she soon got the satisfaction of seeing me wipeout on the way down. :)

Mid afternoon, about 7 hours after Jess started driving today, we arrived at the Nambung National park to see the Pinnacles. These odd limestone formations are spread across a large desert area. The wind has eroded them into all sorts of distinctive shapes and created interesting surface textures.

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Although I didn't find them as awe inspiring as Uluru, the Bungle Bungles or some of the other gorges that we'd climbed into, I still found them fascinating. Perhaps the nearly full moon hanging near the horizon with the odd sculptured stones beneath made it seem lunar like - or maybe that's just the geek in me speaking.

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On the southern end of the Nambung NP we passed by the Wanagarren nature reserve which, apparently, has some travelling sand dunes. We caught a glimpse of one of them.

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A little under 2 hours later, at about 6 in the evening, we off-loaded our luggage from the bus and said goodbye to Jess and our travelling companions for the last time. :(

Tomorrow, Karen and I start travelling under our own steam again...and her Mum comes to spend some time with us.

Posted by pkd064 01:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 78 - Kalbarri Rescue Crew

Ill prepared tourists


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We left Denham early today and headed for Monkey Mia to participate in the dolphin feedings. Despite the early hour and how far away from everything it is, there was quite a crowd. The odds were pretty slim of being selected to be one of two who get to actually feed a dolphin.

Pick me!

Pick me!

However we did get to see a few dolphins and they came in quite close to the crowd.

A Money Mia dolphin

A Money Mia dolphin

Finches came for a feed too

Finches came for a feed too

Having watched the dolphins and the finches as they ate, we decided we were hungry too so we had a hot chocolate, some scones and a pastie for morning tea.

We jumped back on the bus and then 200 km later we pulled in at the Billabong Roadhouse just south of a little place called Meadow on the North West Coastal Highway about 650 km north of Perth. It was an interesting place to stop as they were piping some pretty quirky 50s & 60s music through the roadhouse and out to the picnic area. It also had an air navigation system installation behind the road house to service a nearby airstrip. I think it was here that we learnt that Ken, one of our travel companions, had been an air traffic controller. That explains why he seemed so sharp and why he was so fastidious about everything that he did.

Another hour and a bit further south we crossed the Murchison river for the first time. The Murchison is the second longest river in WA and the town at the river's mouth, Kalbarri, was our intended destination for tonight...but we still had a few adventures ahead of us before then as Jess took us into the Kalbarri National Park...

As we travelled the sandy, often corrugated, and sometimes bull-dusted road into the national park we became the "Kalbarri rescue crew." First we came upon a French lass and an Italian lad bogged in bull-dust trying to dig out their little camper van. They had no chance so we all disembarked from the bus and pushed them out. When our German girls, who are all keenly following the European soccer championship, heard that he was Italian they jokingly said he was lucky they didn't know that before they helped push him out. Some bad blood from last year's comp?

Not 10 mins further up the road we came upon a Ford Falcon, with the back end in the low scrub beside the road and the front wheels hanging over the sandy embankment, tracks veering off the road and bits of car scattered on the ground. Fortunately they hadn't rolled it but they had lost control in the deep sand, shot across the road over the embankment into the bush and then turned back toward the road before getting bogged.

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With the help of someone else who also stopped we dug, pushed, made plant ramps, dug and pushed some more and finally got them back onto the road.

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We continued on to the entrance to the gorge, which is wider than most others that we've seen and has some odd plateaus behind it, and walked out to Nature's Window. The sign said it was an easy walk...perhaps we took a wrong turn but the view at the end was well worth it.

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Karen, with all her boundless energy, decided she'd do a bit of rock climbing. Hang in there Goob!

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On the way out we came upon a roo that had been hit. We tried contacting rangers and animal rescue people without success. Eventually Jess did manage to confirm that there aren't any wild life rescue groups nearby. Faced with the poor thing having a lingering death, she moved the bus so our young ladies wouldn't see what she needed to do next. That was a sad end to an afternoon.

After Jess returned to the bus we drove to Kalbarri township for our last night together as a group.

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Left hand side front to back: Karen, Jess our guide and driver, Ken, Jeanette, Regi
Right hand side front to back: Claire, Perry, Jackie, (I've forgotten - so sorry), Nikki
Centre back: Haydon

The pair that we had rescued in the Ford Falcon were at the same hostel that night. They looked more than a little sheepish when they saw us :)

Posted by pkd064 08:46 Archived in Australia Tagged people animals rivers accommodation landscape june wa karen vehicles Comments (0)

Day 77 - "One small step for man"


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We began today with bacon and eggs and cooked tomato for breaky which is Jess' way of preparing us for a long drive. We appreciate it as the extra work in cooking b & e means an earlier start for her despite the hours of driving ahead.

Our first stop of any significance was the town of Carnarvon where we stopped to fuel up the truck and get Jess her morning coffee.

The servo happened to be close to a former OTC earth station with a big satellite dish. It seemed the stop would be long enough so I told Jess I was going to run up for a closer photo. She offered to take us all up after she'd fueled up...which took a little longer as the servo didn't do coffee so we went into town first.

When we got to the dish it turned out that it was just one of several things to see. There was a small museum which I didn't go in to, a full size (but remarkably small - poor astronauts) mockup of an Apollo space capsule shell, a Cassegrain-fed folded-horn antenna used to support the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission back in 1969 (yes THE first time man walked on the moon), and various support buildings some of which were inaccessible as they were now on private / leased land.

Carnarvon OTC satellite earth station

Carnarvon OTC satellite earth station

Still, I got to get into the capsule replica and to wander around on the platforms beneath the dish to check out the dish supports and drive mechanism.

Crew capsule

Crew capsule


Former OTC dish at Carnarvon

Former OTC dish at Carnarvon

I like this shot of the sun's corona behind the dish. If we'd been there longer I'd have positioned it better but, as everyone else was back on the bus, I had to dash into the scrub and quickly...but very carefully...straddle a cactus to get this shot.

Former OTC dish at Carnarvon

Former OTC dish at Carnarvon

Soon we crossed the Gascoyne river, which was looking pretty dry, and continued on to Hamelin park for a late lunch.

It's the site of an old telegraph station, has a quaint store and a caravan park, but more importantly for us, it's where we got access to the stromatolites - ancient single celled organisms which grow in colonies in the sea and form odd rock structures.

Stromatolites

Stromatolites

Stromatolites

Stromatolites

They used to be found all over the earth's oceans but now survive here and in the Bahamas. They require the extra salty conditions that arise because of a remarkably dense fringe of 12 species of sea grass around the Hamelin pools.

That same sea grass makes this area a popular one for dugongs but we didn't see any.

We left the stromatalites just after 3 and, half an hour later, took a photo of this road sign.

Useless Loop Rd

Useless Loop Rd

Useless Loop is the road that goes to the western most point of mainland Australia. This is as close as I got - that's your cue Barry :)

Another hour down the road we stopped just outside the electric fences of Project Eden. It's a large fenced reserve inside of which they're trying to eliminate non-native predators and competitors to allow native Australian creatures to flourish.

They do lots of culling of goats and brumbies and 1080 baiting, a poison derived from native plants that doesn't harm our wildlife but does kill introduced species like feral cats etc. They even have motion activated recordings of dogs barking to scare other creatures.

By 4:30 we were marvelling at the millions of tiny cockle shells that were metres deep on Shell Beach. It's estimated that they've been washing up here for 4000 years.

Shell Beach

Shell Beach

Shell Beach

Shell Beach

Although it wasn't on our itinerary, the timing was right for a detour out to Eagle Bluff to watch the sun set. A little low cloud on the horizon stopped us from getting a perfect shot but it was still beautiful.

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Then we continued into Denham, our stop for the night, where Karen got a pleasant surprise. While we were up on the bluff she said to Ken and I that she really felt like a good steak dinner with mashed potato, brussel sprouts, pumpkin and a nice mushroom sauce.

Jess was nowhere near us at the time and we didn't say anything about Karen's yearnings but, other than having broccoli instead of brussel sprouts, that's what we had for dinner!

Posted by pkd064 09:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 75 & 76 - The closest we got to a motorcycle

Behave!

semi-overcast
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When we arrived in Coral Bay last night the hostel staff cooked us hamburgers. It was nice not having to do the evening meal. They also gave everyone a ticket for a free drink but, oddly, you couldn't redeem it on soft drink or bottled water, only on beer or wine. We gave ours away.

Coral Bay is small. There's the hostel, a bakery, small supermarket, caravan park, cafe, a couple of tour operators, restaurant, jewelery store and visitor centre.

We all went different ways today - Haydon and Jeanette went on a glass bottom boat, Nikki, Claire and Ken went on the Manta Ray cruise, the rest of the young ones chilled at the beach and Karen and I went quad bike riding.

Although there were two companies offering quads there weren't any Hondas or Yamahas, they both use Canam quads. I checked them out and saw that they are still using Rotax engines as they did decades ago, when they were known as Canam Bombardier, and made competition dirt bikes.

Karen and I had to sign up as riders because they required a minimum of 2 paying riders to run the tour but, while we were still having our induction, the office girls came over to say more people were coming along so Karen, who'd originally wanted to pillion, went back and got a $41 dollar refund ($90 to ride, $49 to pillion) and climbed on to the back of my quad.

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Now we had 4 quads going, Tys our guide on his own on the lead quad, a father and son on the 2nd, another older son and daughter (we think) on the 3rd quad and us last...through choice. We'd seen a girl at Yardie Creek hobbling around because she'd been quadding, a bike in front of her had rolled and she'd been following too close and ran into it. I suggested to Karen that by going last we'd be entirely in control of our own safety and not at risk from some newb behind us...it also meant that I could drop back whenever I wanted and then play catch up ;)

Being the detail loving chap that I am I actually read the entirety of the contract that we signed and noted that it stipulated that we mustn't go any faster than 35km/h. I dutifully did my part to observe that 35km/h limit the entire trip...in fact I'm pretty sure I was watching the digital speedo every time that 35 was momentarily displayed on the way to higher numbers.

It was a very fun 2.5 hours. The path that we took along the beach and into the surrounding dunes had a nice mix of -

- straight beach runs where we could either toddle along enjoying the view with Karen taking photos from the plush pillion perch behind me or see how quickly the 400cc Rotax engine could approach its redline with Karen hanging on to the rails beside her seat laughing (35km/h dutifully observed..."look there it goes again")

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- curvy bits that existed simply to be curvy with well banked corners so that we could either pick our speed, go up high on the curve and rail out into the next one or, when we weren't in 4wd mode, we could go in faster, back it into the curve on the rear brake and then point and push that thumb throttle, again with Karen hanging on and laughing behind me

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- S bends where the mid point was also the crest of a dune and the two ends of the s had opposite cambers or sometimes even crossed other tracks with deep sand that abruptly slowed us and challenged us not to run wide up the banks

- straight runs down steep dunes

- big open bowls and small cul-de-sacs where we got to do big wide turns or near 360s

- corrugated hard pack where we chose our lines carefully, or as carefully as speed permitted, to avoid swallowing your fillings

- deep deep soft sand on a gentle off camber where, if the quad wasn't in 4wd mode, it would crab walk sideways along the beach.

We took lots of photos which meant we had to slow so Karen could get her phone out, take the shot and then tuck it away safely in her pocket...and then I had an excuse to catch up. I learnt that it's possible to roost sand in your own face when you're in 4wd mode.

Quad biking

Quad biking


Quad biking

Quad biking

We stopped a few times. Once for the others to do some snorkelling which we didn't mind as we'd only paid for a 2 hour trip but they'd paid for 2.5 hours including the snorkelling. It showered briefly but we sat and enjoyed looking out over the sea. The other stops were sight seeing stops where we got more lovely photos and saw a turtle swimming by, saw another feeding in the water below the cliff on which we stopped, an eagle ray swam gracefully passed, a mother dolphin and her pup swam in the distance and, way out near the horizon, a whale breached several times.

We even had a swallow accompany us for ages along one ridge where he flew overhead just in front of us and behind the next quad, flipping from the left to the right and back again, rising and falling as he paced us. He disappeared at one point but then popped back in front of us before finally flying off. Perhaps that was his version of dolphins riding the bow waves of ships?

All too soon Tys stopped us for one last photo op and then said to everyone, smiling while looking squarely our way, that we were heading back into town now so it was time to behave. I'd have sworn that I did all my catching up whenever we were around bends or behind dunes and out of sight - apparently not. Good on him for letting an old bloke have a bit of a play.

We whiled away the afternoon eating greasy chips, hot pies, pastries and ice blocks from the local shops, had a nap, published some blog entries and then 'let' Karen beat me 5 games to nil at table tennis, sometimes without even getting a double digit score. It must have been the lighting, the dodgy bat, perhaps an iffy ball...or maybe she's just too good with anything that has a racquet / bat and ball.

Over dinner we listened as those who went on the other activities told us about everything that they had seen while on the glass bottom boat or manta ray snorkeling. Clearly a fabulous day was had by all.

We'll miss Coral Bay.

Posted by pkd064 09:25 Archived in Australia Tagged me beaches people animals birds accommodation ocean june attraction wa karen vehicles perry Comments (0)

Day 74 - Turquoise Bay

Water can be warm


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Those who went whale shark watching left earlier but we got to lie in until 6, pack, have breaky (pancakes) at 7, and then went off to tour the nearby bays.

We started with Vlaming Head Lighthouse near Cape Range National Park. From that lookout we could also see Australia's 2nd, 3rd and 6th tallest structures (as of 22/4/2015 they all became one ranking taller when the Omega Naviational mast at Woodside in Victoria was demolsihed) at the Harold Holt Naval Communications Facility as well as an old radar mast, the lighthouse itself and an automatic ship identification system.

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Then on to the CRNP itself and the Ningaloo Marine Reserve, first stop the visitors centre. It had lots of info about Whale Sharks and the other marine and land life that might be seen in the NP. It also had a souvenir shop where we picked up some items for the grandkids.

Next stop, Turquoise Bay where we got more than an intellectual understanding of what a fringe reef was. There were points where the reef was little more than 10m away from the beach, admittedly thin and bleached but still part of the reef. I tried snorkeling but found it particularly difficult to get an effective goggle seal. That's one of the drawbacks of allowing my mustache and beard to grow for the last 10 and a bit weeks.

Eventually I got the mask to seal intermittently and got further out to the denser parts of the reef but, without glasses, I couldn't see much - the blurry outline of a turtle, vague dark wavy shapes of sea grass, quick moving blurs that were probably schools of small fish. Karen did better snorkeling but stayed closer to shore so didn't see much either

Still, the water was much much warmer than the gorge water in Karajini, the sun was shining, the beach sand was white instead of oxide red and we could float in the water instead of spider walking through a crevice. It was a good start to the day.

There was another Adventure Tours group there, almost all of whom were lying on the beach because the water seemed too cold to them. They are northward bound and will be in the Karajini in a couple of days. Coastal waters too cold?! :)

We drove further into the CRNP to have lunch at Yardie Creek and then we went for a walk up into the gorge that's been carved by the creek. It was an easy walk with lovely views of the creek below in which some people were canoeing, had some rock types and formations unlike any that we'd seen elsewhere on the trip including some really porous rock that looked, to me, because of the holes and stark shadows a little lunar like. We also found some coral fossils and saw a couple of wallabies.

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Then we went back into town so that Jess could fuel up and restock with food, bought an ice block or three (it had been a big day), and picked up the whale shark watchers who'd been lazing away the last part of the afternoon back at the accommodation by the pool.

It's clear that they had a great time on their cruise as they're chattering away about swimming beside several whale sharks and seeing lots of other sea creatures so it seems a good day has been had by all.

Now Jess just has to drive us down the road to Coral Bay. That'll be the shortest drive of the trip.

Posted by pkd064 08:50 Archived in Australia Tagged buildings ocean beach attraction wa karen perry Comments (0)

Day 73 - Spider walks in Karijini

sunny
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It was very cold last night. Fortunately I had lots of layers on so didn't get cold but I did wake from time to time, aware of how cold my face was, and snuggled down into my sleeping bag and swag to keep warm. Karen tells me that she got cold around her legs and feet so she's going to add another layer tonight.

I realized as I typed this entry that I missed my brother Rodney's 70th birthday last Sunday. Bugger! It's so easy to lose track of what's happening back home when you're in the midst of nowhere. Looking back I can see that we were in Tunnel Creek that day and then did lots of driving but I would have had signal at Derby at lunchtime and later that evening in Broome. Oops. We've got no connectivity right now and probably won't have until we get into Exmouth tomorrow evening so I've set an alarm for Monday night to give him a call.

Today was a BIG day. We went and did a rim walk to have a look at where we were going and saw the intersection of 4 gorges. Then we went down for the first of our hikes with our goal being Kermit's pool. One of our oldest companions stopped before entering the gorge because her knee was playing up on the climbs.

It was a wise move because in the park's way of grading hikes this was a class 5 hike. If it had been a 6 it would have required a permit, a certified guide and abseiling equipment. It's not that it's particularly far, nor rough, for the most part, but there are a couple of sections that are quite tricky.

Karijini National Park

Karijini National Park

Before we got to them we hiked into the gorge until we reached a point where the gorge was filled, wall to wall, with water. There's no way forward, that's not unacceptably risky due to rock falls, other than swimming. So it was out of our jackets and other warm gear, it still being a cold early morning, and into freezing water. Suvi, the lass from Finland, chose to stay and look after our clothes and bags. The rest of us waded, a little reluctantly, into the water. It took our breath away and numbed our feet...and was worse when it became waist and then chest deep. We seemed to be in there forever but it was probably only 30 to 40 meters.

Oh so cold!

Oh so cold!

At the end of the water we clambered over some rocks, along some narrow ledges where, at times, we were sitting down, bent over at the waist so our head didn't hit the rocks above us, and slid sideways along the ledges on our bums. All the while we were shivering and had pins and needles in our legs from immersion in the water.

Once we could get upright again the gorge widened out into a section named the amphitheatre. Because it was wider, the sun was reaching into it on the far side so we all scuttled over there to spend some time in the sun and to rest before the next section.

Catching some sun at the base of the gorge

Catching some sun at the base of the gorge

The gorge narrowed again and the water, which until now had been slow moving, was channeled into the bottom of a V shaped cleft in the rock. The water was too fast to walk in and the bottom too slippery so, to move forward, we had to 'spider walk' through the cleft, ie. one leg and one hand on each side of the V, like we were doing a star jump, and then slowly we moved one foot forward until we could find another foothold, then a hand, another foot, the opposite hand etc. The longer we took to find the next foot or handhold the harder it became to support our weight while spread-eagled. The higher we went up the V the further we were spread, the lower we went the smoother the rock and the more difficult to find hand / foot holds.

Spider walking

Spider walking


One of the easier sections

One of the easier sections

For someone with duck's disease, like Karen, it was particularly difficult. Less so for taller chaps like me. About 2/3 of the way along the cleft the walls became closer together and it was possible, and easier, to put both feet on one side, lean forward and put both hands on the other side, and then go sideways. Making the transition between the two positions was a little tricky though. We made it!

Then it was back into the water, deeper this time so swimming was necessary. Then out for another climb along some ledges and voila - Kermit's Pool - where no one chose to go for another swim. Lots of back-patting and photo taking ensued then, having looked over the edge at the beginning of the class 6 abseiling area, we turned around and did everything in reverse.

We couldn't dry off and get into our warm clothes quickly enough when we got back to Suvi.

Warm and dry again!

Warm and dry again!

After returning to camp we settled in for another clear cold night. We break camp in the morning and head to the coast.

Our last night in Karijini National Park

Our last night in Karijini National Park

Posted by pkd064 02:42 Archived in Australia Tagged wa Comments (0)

Day 72 - Karijini walks

"Are you a celebrity?"

sunny
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Well I knew there'd be some early morning movements but I didn't expect them to be quite so early. Some of our companions were up and about at 3am. Fortunately I managed to wait until after 6.

After bacon and eggs for breakfast we set out to walk Dales Gorge, swim in Circular Pool and swim in Fortescue Falls.

Karijini Visitor Centre

Karijini Visitor Centre


Time for a rest

Time for a rest

It was a great walk, neither too hot nor cold, not too steep or flat, and well sheltered in most places so we didn't get too hot. We made a full day of it. At one point, as I looked up at the rim of the gully, I had a brief dizzy spell. I hope it was just a one off or perhaps a remnant of the cold / flu that we had as we've got a few days to go before we hit Perth.

Layer cake?

Layer cake?


Natural pigments

Natural pigments

Karen and I didn't swim in either of the swimming holes but several of the others did. Circular hole was very cold but we're told that the falls, at end of day, were good and much warmer.

Beautiful (and) wild flowers

Beautiful (and) wild flowers

Wild flowers

Wild flowers


Wild flowers

Wild flowers

Wild flowers

Wild flowers

In one of life's little coincidences, as we approached the falls, we met some old folks coming the other way. It turns out that one of them was a geologist. We had a brief chat about the rocks, looked at some uncut subducted yellow diamonds that she'd found in Queensland some years ago and then spoke briefly about the SHRIMP II that I'd helped make back in 1990 and which she had used to date rocks or determine what elements were in them. She also told us about a rock further up that contained the fossils of a stromatolite.

Then, while we were looking for that rock, Karen looked up and said, of a man standing some distance away, that she knew him. She asked him if he was from Queensland. When he answered no she had another thought and asked if he was a celebrity. He answered somewhat reluctantly, I thought, that his name was Bob and then Karen clicked to the fact that he was Bob from the biggest loser. She chatted with him for a while. He has a fascination with rocks so we talked about that too.

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On returning to camp we packed up our goods and chattels and then moved to an adjoining camp because our gas cooker had packed it in this morning. Jess used the new camp facilities to do a great beef stew which we had with some cous cous.

I had another dizzy spell - not so good. We've got another full day of hiking in Karijini so I hope that was the last of them.

It's quite cold in Karijini at night, and last night was also particularly windy, so we've gotten into our thermals again in case tonight is the same.

Posted by pkd064 02:30 Archived in Australia Tagged people hiking june wa Comments (0)

Day 71 - to Karijini NP

sunny
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We began the day with a shower in Pardoo's little self contained ensuites. We met a few other early risers and noticed, as has often been the case, that those who seem to feel the cold most are those who come from cold countries. Go figure...

We breakfasted at 7 and departed at 8, with little camp to break, as we all slept in the dongas last night.

Only a short distance down the road we got to Port Hedland. The actual port itself is full of massive ships many of which, I think, would be bulk ore carriers taking the diggings from Tom Price and other top end mines.

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We went a dozen k south to the sister town, South Hedland, so that we could all buy last minute supplies before we went into Karijini National Park. Karen only had 20 minutes to shop and still managed to buy a pair of shoes (cheapies to wear in camp among the ever present red soil), got a sausage roll and went to Maccas!

(...well that was a nice nap. I can't believe how readily I fall asleep ;) My red bag and pillow are a great combo on these longer drives)

Shortly after I woke we crossed Obstinate Creek which made me think of some of my family and colleagues.

We just finished having hamburgers for lunch at Auski roadhouse. It's got a massive donga complex at the back that's part caravan park, part road worker and maybe even temporary accommodation for people going to and from Tom Price.

Just down the road is a sign with spaces for 3 towns on it but the top one is blanked out. Apparently it used to read "Wittenoom" which is a town that now only has 8 residents still living there because the state closed the town down in 2006. There is no government provided power or water, no other services, and it has been removed from all newly published maps and existing signs. It was a mining town that produced asbestos from distinctive blue striated crocidolite rocks found in the Pilbara region. Shortly after telling us about the town, and its demise and the affect on its people and the miners, Jess played the song "Blue Sky Mine" by Midnight Oil which is about the mine. Sobering.

A while ago we passed Mt Bruce, WA's 2nd highest peak, but now we're in the top end of Karijini NP, a little south west of Wittenoom. The entry road was very corrugated and Jess said it's markedly worse than last week when she brought the north-bound group through. We stopped at the Joffre Falls lookout and then continued to camp where we found permanent tents that are quite different to others that we've had. This one's a single long tent with a central shared atrium and four rooms, in pairs on opposite sides of the atrium.

The snorers and their partners have been put on one side and the non-snorers on the other. Because Karen snores I'm stuck on the noisy side ;) Oh well, we're with the other oldies so they might be understanding when I go on my nocturnal wanderings.

We don't have any mains power or in bus charging for the next 3 days so we're adopting power conserving behaviours, ie. phones off while traveling, airplane mode when they're on unless location capture is required, fewer photos, infrequent facebook. We do have a Power Monkey recharging device that Jack, a friend from work, lent us. If it's been precharged then you can plug it into an iPhone and add about 60% of charge to the iPhone's battery indicator. It's very useful as a day extender or to eek out part of a 2nd bush day. It has a solar panel to recharge itself but we haven't had much success with that.

Posted by pkd064 08:56 Archived in Australia Tagged history june wa Comments (0)

Day 70 - Pardoo Station

sunny
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We were picked up from Beaches at Broome which was much more pleasant than our Darwin experience. While waiting for the bus we met Jackie (UK), Regi (Germany) and Nikki (Germany). When the bus arrived it already had some others on board - Ken (Sydney), Jeanette and Haydon (NZ) and Claire (France) who was picked up last. Our guide is Jessica aka Jess (Charters Towers but more recently from Perth).

With so many km to cover between Broome and Perth, and 3 days of this tour going to be spent in Karijini NP, there will be a couple of days that are basically transport days. This is one of them.

Just after 8am we'd turned south onto the Great Northern Highway and were near the Roebuck roadhouse but the objective for this morning was to get to the Sandfire Roadhouse which was another 200km south.

That was our lunch destination. It was fairly unremarkable - dusty with a patch of watered green like most other places out here but it did have some peacocks wandering around. It was an opportunity for our group to learn Jess' preferences. Adam's practice of tossing all the lunch dishes in a bag and doing them prior to the evening meal was deemed "a crap idea", even if it was appropriate for the dry top end, so I decided I'd settle into the washing up and carrying things roles early on.

Another 80km south and 20 west and we were at 80 Mile Beach. I was surprised by the number of people that could be seen up and down the beach but, as there is a small caravan park nearby, it makes sense. The beach, caravan park, and surrounding area still bear the scars of a big cyclone that came through some years ago. The caravan park has pictures of the aftermath. Such a mess. It was quite a hot day so Karen and I bought an ice block, found a cool spot and settled down until the bus was ready to go.

80 Mile Beach

80 Mile Beach

At day's end we reached Pardoo station. Like El Questro, but less posh, it's another green oasis with a swimming pool, shop, dongas for accommodation and ensuites to clean up in.

Pardoo Station, WA

Pardoo Station, WA

We had chicken stir-fry for dinner and learnt a little more about our companions. Jackie's a doctor and tennis fan, Nikki's an accountant, Reggie's visiting Australia for the second time. Haydon, who has a shock of white hair and a matching beard that's much bigger and wilder than mine, had a stroke 6 months ago. His language skills are still poor but his motor skills seem unaffected. He has a nice nature and Jeanette seems to be coping well with the challenges this must bring.

Posted by pkd064 19:58 Archived in Australia Tagged june wa Comments (0)

Days 67 to 69 - Chilling out in Broome

sunny 29 °C
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It was day 67, a Monday morning bright and clear.

We both still had a bit of a cold / flu but it wasn't bad enough to keep us room bound. We freshened up, grabbed a free continental breaky, chatted briefly with some of our former tour companions (to protect their honour I won't share anything that they told us about their Sunday night exploits) and then went to catch the bus into town.  

It runs every half hour, at 19 and 49 minutes past the hour from our nearest stop, except at 8:19am for some reason.  No prize for guessing when we were there.

We waited and rode the 8:49 bus right down to the other end of Broome so that we could see the whole town.  We stopped briefly at a little shopping centre and visited Town Beach.  Check out the colour contrasts between the red sand and the sea.

Town Beach, Broome

Town Beach, Broome

We found the nearby museum which, unfortunately / fortunately depending on which of us you talk to, was closed and then we jumped onto the next bus and headed back to the main street to browse through the shops and sample the local foods.

The centre of town is quirky - many of the shops have exteriors made out of common painted corrugated iron but with interiors full of rare or precious things.

For example, pearling is a big part of Broome's history and current economy and lots of the shops reflect that.  If pearls are your thing then this is certainly the place to be but you'd better bring lots of money if you want some of the biggest and best locally grown pearls.

A few of the shops also carry diamonds from the Argyle mine that we passed in the distance some days ago.  The few pieces of jewellery that combined Argyle's distinctive pink diamonds and the soft lustre of the local Broome pearls were just stunning.  There aren't any coming home with us though.

Broome has its own Chinatown but it's really just a single lane between two of the main streets bordered by some shops...more like an arcade or small mall.

We had a Mango smoothie which was so so, stopped at the local Thai restaurant for some cashew chicken which was really lovely, but quite different to what we get back home, and searched in vain for a lemon citrus tart. Then we did some grocery shopping for our remaining days in Broome and to get stocked up for the next leg of our trip, then caught the bus back to our accommodation.

In the early evening, because of the 2 hour time difference, we called the family.  It was really nice to be able to see and talk to our kids and grandsons even if Jude did declare "I too busy playing with this. In a minute." :)

It's Tuesday, day 68, and we're enjoying waking up whenever we want and going where we like.  In our own good time we showered, had breaky and walked up to Cable Beach, hired a couple of reclining beach chairs and a brolly, and just lay there for 2 hours relaxing, listening to the waves and looking at the emerald green sea, enjoying the sea breeze.  Ahh, fabulous!

Great weather!

Great weather!


Getting a toe tan

Getting a toe tan

We watched a couple of littlies playing on the beach with their parents / grandparents.  It's sometimes hard to tell.  I'm so pleased that we could facetime the grandkids last night.

As others began to arrive at the beach, around mid-morning, we left and went to the nearby cafe where we finally found a lemon citrus tart.  Yum.

Then, knowing that we had bags full of clothes covered in red dust waiting to be washed, we went back to our accommodation and continued our preparations for the next stage of our trip.

Wednesday, 69 days into the trip, came and I chose to lie around, do some reading (I've got 11 classic novels and a couple of reference books on my iPad) and catch up with some blog writing.  Karen chose to go back to town and wander the shops, looking for gifts for the family.

That's pretty much how the day passed until we prepared and ate dinner, packed our bags after reviewing the first few days of the itinerary of the Broome to Perth leg of our trip, set the alarms and went to sleep...anticipating the start of the next part of our adventure, WA's coastline.

Posted by pkd064 05:41 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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