We’ve had a few days in Broome seeing the sights and as expected it’s very touristy and commercial but at the same time has a nice laid back feel. We liked the old buildings from the early pearling days especially around Chinatown. A lot of these are now pearl outlets and cafes. We spent a couple of hours at the museum which is also in one of the old original buildings and read a lot of the history of the early pearling days and also Broome’s part in the WWII where they had their entire fleet of flying boats bombed by the Japanese. The majority of pearl divers were Japanese and their cemetery is worth seeing and has not long been upgraded by the Japanese themselves. Next door is the Chinese cemetery which is a lot smaller.
We went to Cable Beach and the northern side is like a highway with all the 4WDs and camels as well. This end is ‘clothes optional’ beach and one old bloke was tanning himself front up where the camels do their tour. Didn’t faze him at all but I don’t know what the poor tourists thought, especially the kids! One of the other beaches, Town Beach, is where they view the ‘Stairway to the Moon’ (which we didn’t stay to see) also has “croc sighting” warning signs, but that doesn’t stop people going in swimming and letting their kids play there.
We next headed up towards Cape Leveque, camping at James Price Point which is a free camp on the headlands for three nights. Then onto Middle Lagoon calling into Beagle Bay, a small community to see their historic church which was built in 1917 and the interior is decorated with ‘mother of pearl’ shells and is quite impressive. Middle Lagoon a stunning bay and a popular campground as we found out with the school holidays, but we got a spot in the overflow area. They assured us there are no crocs, don’t know how they can be sure, but we chanced it and went in swimming a few times and tried our luck fishing as well but no bites on the beach. Most people have boats and head out to sea and seem to do OK.
Back in Broome for a couple of days to stock up everything and then head off on the Gibb River Road to see the gorges of the Kimberleys and lots more red dust!
This album has 15 photos and will be available on SkyDrive until 6/10/2015.
Red Dog – the Pilbara Wanderer.
Northwest Shelf Gas Plant – Dampier.
Yvonne, Dave, Chelsea, Sue & Greg.
Stopped at Whim Creek Pub for lunch!
Port Hedland – Salt Mine
Fishing at Eighty Mile Beach
Queued Up At Sandfire Roadhouse!
Barnhill Station Camp.
We are at present heading into Broome for a few days before going north to Cape Leveque. We’ve slowly been moving up the coast staying and visiting Karratha, Dampier, Port Samson, Port Hedland, Eighty Mile Beach and have just left Barnhill Station which is a campground by the ocean.
We caught up with friends Dave and Yvonne Fuller and their border collie, Chelsea for a few days. Was great seeing and spending a few days with them. Their son Pete gave us a guided tour around Port Hedland where he now fly’s in for work. We left them there and they will head back home to the Central Coast via Karijini NP and the Great Central Road. We actually met some of their old neighbours yesterday…..small world!
Between Eighty Mile and Barnhill we stopped at Sandfire Roadhouse to fill up. Turned out there was only two diesel bowsers and one was taken up by a mine truck buying bulk to take back to site. The other one had a long queue of caravans, motor homes, campers etc. Well, the truck emptied his side of diesel and our side ran out as we got to the bowser…..typical. The owner put 80 litres into the tank and the truck had to put one of his tanks back in. We were good to go but don’t know how many more would have filled up but the tanker was due in at 1.00pm!
After leaving Exmouth we went on to Onslow and camped out at the Four Mile Camp on Ashburton River near Old Onslow. The only remains of Old Onslow is the gaol and police quarters with a python living in the wall. They rebuilt the town further away because the river was silting up and they couldn’t get the ships in. It was a nice spot to camp except for the mossies which were so bad they near carried you away and repellent didn’t deter them at all.
From here we went east to Tom Price and Karijini National Park. (And no, we didn’t look for work while we were here!) Karijini has some of the most spectacular gorges we have seen and were lucky to be able to see them as there was a lot of rain and some of the roads and gorges were closed for a couple of days. But the sun came out and the roads soon dried out enough for traffic to get through. Some of the walks into the gorges were quite hairy and I’m surprised they let people do them, but I guess you go at your own risk. Some you had to descend so far by ladders, climb walls, walk through creeks and pools and get through best way you could. But it was all worth it and amazing to see. We didn’t end up swimming as the water was freezing and you could see how cold the ones were who did, they were shivering!
Our next stop was Millstream NP which also had heaps of rain and had only just opened to 4WD’s. The Fortescue River that had flooded was going down but we still had a few crossings to get through. This park wasn’t as scenic as Karijini but still nice and had natural springs which were crystal clear. Millstream was once a station and the homestead and cookhouse are the only buildings remaining. A bathhouse was built back in the station days in the springs but is now long gone and swimming is forbidden due to some aboriginal belief but we managed to find a little spot down stream to jump in. Surprisingly it was lukewarm.
We are at present camped at Forty Mile Beach south of Karratha for a week. Haven’t caught any fish yet but we are going to try and catch some muddies up the creek. Fingers crossed. The weather is quite nice and 29oC is about average. A bit windy today though. After here we will go to Dampier and Karratha for a few days and then continue north.
After leaving Carnarvon we went on and camped at Warroora Station on the Ningaloo Reef for a week. Top spot for swimming, canoeing, fishing and visiting Coral Bay for snorkelling. We also went to Ningaloo Station for a few days for much of the same.
Then we went to Exmouth and Cape Range National Park. One day we canoed up Yardie Creek and saw heaps of Black Footed Rock Wallabies on the sheer red cliffs of the gorge. Amazing how they can hang on and the way they leap up the cliffs.
The great thing about Ningaloo Reef is you can just go in off shore snorkelling and see heaps of coral and beautiful tropical fish without the need for a boat. Funny how the fish know when they’re in a protected marine sanctuary because they are every where and hang around, but in the unprotected zone there’s no fish to be seen!
The highlight for us here was going out for the day swimming with the Whale Sharks. We saw three being three, four and five metres long. It was a magical and unforgettable experience! They are just so big and gentle. The next day some people camped next to us went out and they saw a nine to ten metre one which even amazed the tour guides. And then another couple went out fishing in their tinnie and a six metre one came up along side of them and stayed for awhile!
We spent a couple of days extra here snorkelling and fishing. Caught nine one afternoon but all too small. You went past the fish cleaning table in the caravan park and everyday they all had heaps of huge fish but they went outside the reef in their boats. I believe the entertainment was at the boat ramp. There is only one ramp which was also used by the tour boats. Of an afternoon, all the boaties would come in at the same time and try to get out at once. One day we know of, there was a bit of a punch up and the police and ambulance were called in. Yep, fisho’s are a weird mob!
More photos to follow.
We are in Carnarvon at present arriving here a couple of days ago believing we would have to book into a cabin to get shelter from Cyclone Quang. The girls at the tourist information assured us it was nothing this time with only 50 mm of rain expected and around 50 km/h winds. So we ended up setting up the camper trailer with every inch pegged down and hoped for the best. The next morning woke up with no results. No wind and no rain, good! Which is better than the weather you lot have been copping on the east coast. Hope everyone is OK and no damage!
Before arriving here and since Geraldton we went to Coronation Beach, Northampton, Kalbarri and Denham. On the way we visited a couple of old homesteads dating back to the 1850’s and one (Oakabella), supposedly being haunted. We didn’t see any ghosts but the hostess was very out there and wacky! Beautiful old house but I’m not sure I would like to stay there on my own!
Kalbarri is surrounded by national park with both coastal cliffs and inland gorges on the Murchison River. All very scenic and spectacular and the Murchison River was in full flow and brown from the previous cyclone and really contrasted where it flowed into the Indian Ocean. We got up early one morning and did a 9 km walk before it got too hot, seeing ‘Natures Window’ and parts of the river and gorges.
Another thing the cyclone brought in was the bloody tiny fly’s. Thousands and thousands of them! The standard uniform for everyone is fly nets but they still manage to get in, up your nose, in your mouth, eyes and ears!
Next main stop was Denham and the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. We arrived in time for Anzac Day and got up for the Dawn Service and later went to watch the march which was very small and consisted of the police car, ambulance and about twenty people including the local kickboxing class. But the highlight was as they marched towards the Cenotaph an emu came out of nowhere and led the procession. It was the funniest thing you’ve ever seen and of course we didn’t have the camera.
While here, we went to Monkey Mia for the famous daily dolphin experience where they come in and check us humans out. Then we went on a cruise,stopping at a black pearl farm, the same one as in ‘Farmer Wants A Wife’. We also saw a dugong, manta ray, turtles, dolphins and a three metre tiger shark which they talk up as being too well fed to be interested in humans and you can almost swim with them. After you, I say!
On leaving Denham we stopped and camped at another beach called Gladstone and were going to stay three nights but ended up leaving after two as they were predicting heavy rains from the cyclone. If that happened then the road out would have been impassable and closed, meaning we would be stuck in there for some time and were low on supplies, especially beer! So now after getting the car serviced, restocking supplies and sightseeing around Carnarvon, seeing the One Mile Jetty, Quobba Blowholes and coastlines we are heading off towards Coral Bay tomorrow.
We arrived and stayed at Fremantle for about a week and a half. Nice place for a city and a lot more laid back and cruisey than Perth. There’s many old buildings and harbour side pubs, cafes, restaurants, museums, etc. The caravan park we stayed in had a bus stop out the front and it was handy and easier to catch a bus into town than driving and trying to find a car park. While we were there, we went to the Perth Caravan and Camping Show and had fun catching the train and bus back carrying a shower tent and a jockey wheel among other stuff we really had to have!
Another day we did a tour of the Fremantle Prison that was built in the 1850’s by convicts, only closed down in 1991 and the last hanging was 1984! Very cold and eerie place!
We went out to Rottnest Island for two nights (thanks Mum)and stayed in the lodge which use to be warders quarters for the ‘Quad’ that was an aboriginal prison attached (now a backpackers accommodation). Very sad history for the aboriginals and the unmarked cemetery was, until not so long ago, a campground for the tourists! Other history included the WWII defence to protect the Port of Fremantle and City of Perth with manned nine and six inch guns, lookouts, radars, etc. There are also two lighthouses to guide the ships through the reefs into Fremantle. We hired bikes for a day and rode around the island (about 22kms), seeing many spectacular beaches and sheltered coves where numerous boats and cruisers moor on the weekends and holidays. After six hours on the bikes it was a painful ride home and now we know why there are so many bikes chained up at the bus stops on the island!
Arriving back at Fremantle, we caught up with a mate we knew from both Central Coast and Kalgoorlie for lunch and afternoon drinks at Little Creatures Brewery. Very relaxing and good to see him again.
Before leaving, we also went on a Swan River cruise to Perth passing a $57 million mansion owned by a mining heiress, also Gina Rinehart and Cloughs mansions. We also passed James Packer and Gina’s luxury cruisers when we came back from Rottnest Island! Poor souls!
We have since been slowly travelling north biding our time till cyclone season is finished. We stayed at Sandy Cape for a week over Easter, visited the Pinnacles near Cervantes and went to a WA Rock Lobster packing shed for a tour and lunch. As usual, all the product goes overseas to Japan, China, Dubai, USA and anyone else who wants to pay $100 a kilo. We only get the ones with three or more legs missing!
At the moment we are at a beach camp called Coronation Beach about 25kms north of Geraldton. Tomorrow we will go in town to have some wear and tear repairs done on the awning and visit the HMAS Sydney II memorial and museum. After here we will head on to Kalbarri which is suppose to be really nice as well. And the water is finally starting to warm up!
Augusta is a very picturesque town with a relaxed feel to it which we quite liked and stayed for three nights. We did a tour and climbed Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse which is the tallest on the mainland at 39 metres high. The views were spectacular and looks over where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet. Down below is also an old Water Wheel, built in 1895, the same time as the lighthouse, to supply fresh spring water to the above lighthouse cottages. The wheel is now completely calcified and an interesting piece of work. We also went to Jewel Cave for a tour which is one of the many large caves in this area and is magnificent with the world’s longest straw stalactites at 5.9 metres long and massive stalagmites! The cave is huge with many, many caverns and they even found a skeleton of a Tasmanian Tiger in there!
We moved on to Hamelin Bay which was only up the road 23kms but the coast was stunning and protected from the wind. With the long weekend coming up we had to book in somewhere and got the last site which was a bit tight and took some manoeuvring but we got in. There are many resident sting rays that hang around and have been here for years. You can feed fish to them and they’ll let you pat them as well. Amazing! We stayed for six nights and did some sightseeing around the Margaret River region, also seeing Prevelly Beach where they have international surfing competitions. On the weekend they had the annual Augusta River Festival so we went back there on the Sunday for a few hours watching the ‘drink can boat regatta’, parade, stalls and live music.
Our next stop was Busselton on Geographe Bay which has the longest timber jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 1.8kms long. This bay between Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse/Dunsborough to Busselton would have to date, be the most stunning bay we have yet seen. It’s so picture perfect with the calm blue waters, white sandy beaches and brilliant blue skies.
We continued on northwards to Bunbury and stayed out at Belvedere Camp on the Leschenault Estuary where we dropped pots from the kayak for blue swimmer crabs. We caught heaps but only about half a dozen were big enough to keep. We did day trips from here to Bunbury and went on the town history tour and saw the city sights. Bunbury is the second biggest city in WA after Perth but the population is still only around 40,000.
Another day we drove out to Ferguson Valley to a place called Gnomesville. The population here would be bigger then Bunbury as there are thousands of gnomes! It started with a lady putting one on the side of the road and it just kept growing. People come from all over and even overseas and place their own gnomes there. Wish we’d had realised, we could have taken our own and called them ‘Notsogreygnomeads’! Next time round!
Our last stop before Fremantle was a camp spot called Herron Point on the Peel Inlet just south of Mandurah. We again caught blue swimmer crabs here but again only a couple big enough to keep, but yummy anyway. We managed to get dumped out of the kayak as it was fairly rough and windy. Lucky we could stand up to get back in!
We were in the area in time for the annual Mandurah Crab Fest weekend and you’ve never seen so many crabs! One photo we took of the woks is only one of many stalls selling them for lunch. There were plenty of stalls and markets as well as entertainment etc. Lots and lots of people there and many come down from Perth for the weekend but apparently numbers were down this year due to the big winds expected from the cyclone up north! Mandurah is a very modern and expensive town with many man made canals with waterfront homes and their boats parked at the door. Well worth a look!
When we got to Manjimup we camped out of town in a Karri forest for two days doing some sightseeing around the timber/logging industry. While in town we saw a poster advertising the Boyup Brook Country Music Festival which just happened to be the next weekend and is the biggest country music festival in WA! So off we went for four days, camping in the caravan park overflow paddock on the edge of town. They also turned the footy field, tennis club and school into camping grounds for the weekend. Well don’t get excited, it’s nothing like Tamworth with all the non-stop free entertainment in all the pubs and on the streets. There’s only one pub and one club! They had some entertainment and some free acts in the town centre during the day as well as the street parade with two floats and the ute and truck muster! Troy Cassar Daley and Tanya Kernigan were the big drawcards for the main concert on Saturday and as we had already seen Troy in Kalgoorlie doing a free concert, we didn’t want to pay $100 each to see him again so we just wandered around the town watching the free stuff and when we got back to camp which was only across the road from the entertainment, we could hear the concert loud and clear. An old bloke by the name of Wazza came over and invited us to watch him play later in one of the sheds in the caravan park and he was alright for an 85 year old and played some mean Johnny Cash. There was another group and a busker who performed up town earlier and were also staying in the park, that got up and did a couple of songs with him. All six of us spectators had a great night!
Just outside of Boyup Brook is Harvey Dickson’s country music and rodeo park and is worth seeing. Harvey built all the stockyards, bar, stages, amenities, sheds and statues in the paddock from huge trees and stumps. He’s also has just about every memorabilia and collectables you could imagine, most hanging from the ceiling in one of the sheds and he has every single album that Elvis ever made!
We returned to Manjimup after the weekend, had the car serviced and stayed in the camping area near Big Brook Dam for five nights. From here we went on day trips to Pemberton which is another old and still active logging and milling town and has all the original timber mill houses which are still lived in today. We went on a mill tour while here. We also saw the old fire watch trees in the Karri forests which are between 61 and 75 metres tall and you can climb at your own risk. Greg had a go but not me!
Another day we went for a drive to Northcliffe and Windy Harbour which almost got lost to the fires. People living there must have near shit themselves! There were still lots of trees smouldering when we drove through. Amazing no houses were lost, just a couple of sheds.
Next stop is Augusta.