Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

199910 Australia-WA

Friday 1 October 1999   The Western Australia Spring Cart Championships have time trials today and races over the weekend.  Serious stuff with go carts everywhere.  Afternoon on site.
Saturday 2 October   Proper races today $5 (£2.25) admission!  Quite a few crashes and kids as young as 8 competing.  Shothole Canyon is great as the road runs through the bottom. Explosives were used to try and find minerals.  We drive between huge boulders looking up at exposed patches of cream rock.  Climb to a lookout where 3 canyons join.  Next detour is Charles Knife road which winds up a hair pin track into the Cape Range Hills.  Excellent views over both the West and East coasts.  Sunrise viewing from here is recommended.
Sunday 3 October  Wake at 5.45am too early for the sun.  Just sitting down to breakfast a few minutes later and it has risen.  Down the coast to Coral Bay by 9.00am.  It’s school holidays and the one street, 2 campsite "town" is heaving.  Paradise Beach has excellent snorkelling by the shore.  Even more colourful reef and different fish.  Head further South at 4.00pm and cross the Tropic of Capricorn marked by a metal road sign and a line on the road.  Camp in a rest area by the dried up River Lyndon.
Monday 4 October  Rejoin the West coastal highway near Minilya.  Spot Sharyn and Patrick on the trikes and enjoy a drink together, catch up on their news and arrange to meet in Nanga.  Turn off just North of Carnarvon towards Quobba to visit the blowholes.  As we reach the shore a huge sign warns "king waves kill" on this rugged coastline.  Formed when the sea rushes into caves and the pressure forces the water out through holes the blowholes blast up to 20m high with an almighty roar.  It’s incredible and we take loads of video and photo’s.  We stand nearby and get absolutely drenched but soon dry in the hot sun.  Explore North up the coast to Cape Cuvier where salt from the nearby lake is bulldozed over the cliff onto waiting boats.  In 1988 the 33,000 ton Korean Star was waiting to load but a cyclone hit.  Unimpressive wreckage is strewn over 3 sites.   Back past the blowholes then further South along the coast where for $1 p.p.p.n (45p) you can camp in one of the many bays with your own access to the beach.  Long term people have put up a sign "Quobba Heights" and two scarecrows!  We drive to the end and find a secluded spot only to be snookered when 2 families arrive to ride their quad bike along the beach!  The families are just leaving when a car pulls up with another family ready to fish.  It’s John, Patsy, Charlie and April whom we met on 17/9 at Millstream – small world.
Tuesday 5 October   Another beautiful day.  I write lots of letters whilst Steve has a lie in.  Sunbathe the rest of the day away.
Wednesday 6 October  Morning sun bathing  then a short drive North to the lagoon protected by a reef.  The water is shallow and we wade between the coral which is quite an experience.  Ever careful not to step on it we make our way over to a small island.  Shells abound and the back of the beach is like a shell wall.  Sea urchins, big clams and oysters are everywhere.  Leave at 2.30pm after a last look at the blowholes.  Bibbawarra Bore gushes out 55,000 gallons of 60 degree water a day.   A channel used to take it 80m to the longest watering trough in Australia allowing it to cool down enough for the sheep to drink.  No longer in use the water is just diverted into a stream.  Miaboolya Beach is a disappointment and not as nice as the book made out.  A home made camper arrives with Simon, Buffie and Bull Mastiff dogs Zack and Zoe.  An evening together cooking a meal on the campfire. 
Thursday 7 October  Get a shock arriving in Carnarvon.  Clouds fill the sky and it starts to spot with rain – the first since early June.  Book the van in for a service in the afternoon then stock up on groceries.  E-mail from John Winton (family from Stafford) in Denham whom we arrange to meet at Nanga on Sunday.   A man comes over to the van and introduces himself as fellow naturist Ken.  People in Broome had told him about us and he recognised the van. With Kay he collects us at the garage and we have lunch and chat in their caravan whilst the service is being done.  Drive around the tourist spots but with the wind blowing a gale, the spots or rain and the cold temperature nothing looks too inviting.  Babbage Island has historic buildings and a long jetty which we spend a couple of minutes looking at.  Carnarvon is a big fruit and veg growing area and we buy 3 huge grapefruit $1 (45p), 8 big tomatoes $1 and 4 red peppers $1.  Bush Bay a lovely free camping spot right on the beach and perfect should the weather pick up.  One caravan has fenced off an area and made a garden!
Friday 8 October  A cold (well cold to us having spent 4 months in 30C) rainy windy night.  Linger in bed until after 10.00.  Looking through the bedroom window is like being on the ship again as all we can see is the ocean.  Nicole phones from Adelaide with news of the Olympic ticket allocation.  We have 2 badminton sessions, 2 very good althletic ones and the closing ceremony.  Steve is upset at not getting any swimming but pleased with the closing ceremony.  I make our initial rough plan for out tour of South New Zealand.  Clouds start to break up and we get occasional sun but give up and head south to Overlander Roadhouse.
Saturday 9 October   So cold last night a mouse has joined us.  Will have to play "Mouse Trap" tonight.   Enter Shark Bay World Heritage area and first visit Hamelin Pool.  Stromatolites are the worlds oldest living fossils and can be seen along the shore.  To us they look like strange rocks and the highlight is the shell quarry.  Minute shells make up the ground here and rain activates calcium to bind them together.  Blocks are cut and houses built from them.  Just arriving at Nanga Bay Resort when we see Sharyn and Patrick mending a puncture.  Sites $16 (£7) night and a swimming pool, spa, restaurant and shop.  We hear of recent bad weather in Perth.  Black clouds covered the whole area and the rain was turned muddy by 100km winds.  There are a few clouds left here and a breeze but it looks like we escaped the worst and we could soon be back to good weather.  Try out the beach followed by the pool then the spa.    Join Sharyn and Patrick for a meal in their holiday unit.
Sunday 10 October  "Freedom" rolls up with John, Shirley and Daniella.  They left England on 1st March then drove to Bombay and shipped to Perth from there.  What tales they have to tell and yes it has given us even more food for thought.  We eat with John, Shirley, Daniella, Patrick and Sharyn at the shell block made restaurant.  $10 ($4.50) for a Sunday roast eaten outside by the camp fire. 
Monday 11 October  Our mouse capture score is nil but John caught 4 in his van.  Cold nights but back to clear skies and hot days.  Spend a lot of time with John and Shirley and join them for a meal in their van.  Mouse problems through the night with the bait taken from the traps and the traps set off but no mouse caught.
Tuesday 12 October  Pick up E-mail having heard David has an address in Belgium.  Not quick enough as he has now moved on to Barcelona!  Don’t know who he takes after constantly on the move!  Visit Shell Beach made up of 10m deep tiny shells.  Eagle Bluff has a good lookout where we can see 1m sharks swimming in the lagoon below.  Camp nearby and spend the night listening to the mouse and hoping it enjoys the poison.
Wednesday 13 October   We have booked two boat trips today with Patrick and Sharyn but as we are driving the radio gives a gale warning for this region.  Through Denham and out to Monkey Mia where people are lined up ankle deep in the water to see the famous bottle nosed dolphins.  Since the early 60’s they have been coming here daily to interact with people.  Steve is chosen to hand feed a fish to one of them.  It makes a wonderful site even if it is very touristy.  There are lots of pelicans here and one is on the lawn filling its beak up with water from the sprinkler – what a funny sight.  Bump into Ken and Kay and take a walk together.  The boat trip is cancelled as the weather deteriorates.  Say farewell to Sharyn and Patrick and return to Denham picking up a Canadian and German hitch hiker en route.  Collect mail from Claire and Carol but not the Olympic letter from Nicole.  Enjoy 6 pieces of fish and chips at $7.50 (£3.25).  Meet Ken and Kay at Eagle Bluff and enjoy an evening meal together followed by cards.  Steve suddenly jumps up having spotted the mouse.  It seems sleepy (probably after being a glutton with the poison) and he manages to kill it with a magazine.  Look forward to a good nights sleep.
Thursday 14 October  Survive the stormy night tucked in by some bushes.  Awake to a much nicer day although still breezy.  Ken and Kay head south whilst we must wait for mail tomorrow.  We have the place to ourselves until late afternoon when new people arrive.
Friday 15 October  "The old fossils" call to see us having arrived late yesterday and not spotted us.   20km back to Denham and no mail but loads of E-mail.  Will have to get the mail sent on to Geraldton.  Head south again and stop at Billabong roadhouse for a 2 hour lunch as it is a scorcher of a day and we enjoy soaking up the sun.  Reach Galena Bridge on the Murchison River for the nights camping.  A lovely spot but the flies are back in force.
Saturday 16 October  A note on the window tells us the fossils also camped here last night but arrived too late to see us.  Head west towards Kalbarri stopping to view "Hawks head" rock which is a superb spot.  The sandstone rock has been wind sculptured into a hawks face and you get a great photo looking down to the river below.  The road is lined with lots of different wild flowers and looks spectacular.  Kalbarri looks like a pretty town even under clouds.  Join Ken and Kay on Tudor caravan park $16 (£7) and comment that it has been bad weather every time we have met them.  Stroll around town and as it brightens up we join Ken & Ken for a trip down the coast.  Lots of tracks lead to different areas of coast and rock formations.  Natural bridge is good and we have to laugh at "Island Rock" when we realise we have just seen it from the other side and it was then called "Castle Rock"!   Chinaman beach is right in town and a sand spit protects it from the strong ocean waves.  Walk with Ken & Kay to Finlay’s fresh fish BBQ in a kind of trendy/rustic shed.  The tin shed used to be a fish factory and now offers no frills BBQ.  They cook the food for you but everything else you do yourself including collecting a toilet roll which doubles up as serviettes and wet wipes!  If you are a broke and hungry "muso" you can sing or play for your supper.  One guy gets up and does just that singing U2 "You still haven’t found what you’re looking for" amongst other ballads.  The food is good and plentiful and the place has a great atmosphere.  "The fossils" spot us and come over to chat.  Irene & Jack have to fly back to Queensland tomorrow as her Mum has just died.  Arrange to meet Ian & Cecile tomorrow night.
Sunday 17 October  Out with Kay & Ken in the car again.  Natures window is a superb rock formation overlooking the Murchison River.  Z bend is another interesting area where we watch people abseiling down the sheer rocks.  Picnic by the Kalbarri foreshore before returning to the site.  Jakes Buffet at Zytdorp Restaurant is all you can eat at $9.95 ($4.50).  We wait for Ian & Cecile but by 6.30pm get stuck into the food.  Soup, 3 roast meats, desert and tea and coffee make this excellent value.  Meet a couple from South Cave in Yorkshire who are visiting family in Perth.  Ian & Cecile show up just as we are leaving having been out on a walk which was longer than they expected.
Monday 18 October  Watch the pelican feeding down at the beach.  Ken & Kay move on and we spend the day around the pool.  Book our flight to New Zealand via Auckland leaving Perth 8th DEC 2000hrs arriving Nelson 9th DEC 1130.  The return flight is from Nelson on 2nd June 1400 via Wellington arriving in Sydney at 1805.  At $1065 (£475) + tax  it certainly doesn’t represent such good value as our £199 to get out here.  When we are in a town Steve takes great pleasure in checking out the best places to eat – nearly as bad as Pete in Rome!  Tonight it’s the Palms resort $15 (£6.50) smorgasbord.  More up market than last night and with a better selection including prawns and crab which Steve gets stuck into.
Tuesday 19 October  Bryan & Lorna from Sydney are friends of Fred & Maureen and they recognise Dew Drop Inn.  They come over to introduce themselves and say that when they last heard Fred was in Germany.  Back on the North West Coastal Highway heading south towards Northampton we begin to see whole fields covered in purple wild flowers.   Northampton is a small town with a nice Catholic church and convent but little else. Turn off to Coronation Beach free camping area.  Lots of secluded bays but a problem with the flies so the bee keepers hats re appear.  Wind surfing is popular on the beach and the weather is good.  Now light until nearly 7.00pm.
Wednesday 20 October  Geraldton is our first real taste of a big town since Darwin.  The telephone works and there are plenty of shops for stocking up.  Just one letter from friends in Australia but this is probably because we have arrived earlier than anticipated.  It’s gets very tricky trying to figure out where we are going to be and when.  Looks like we will have to pay for another re direction but the problem is where to?  Despite being a big fishing port it is a pleasant town with lots of nice old buildings with large balconies.  Check out the old goal then head out to Belair Gardens Caravan Park $15 (£6) night $83 (£33) week.  Having joined Big 4 camping club we get a further 10% discount so may stay here for the week.  £1 = $2.59 which is even better than when we arrived and makes calculations easier and prices cheaper for us. 
Thursday 21 October  Looks like the weather is more settled again as by 6.30am we have clear blue skies and already warm sun.   Steve stayed up most of the night watching sport on TV so we make a late start into town.  A letter from NZ but still no Olympic information.  Collect our photos which will now keep me occupied putting the 150 of them into albums. 
Friday 22 October  Still no mail so we resign ourselves to staying the full week.  St Francis Xavier is an impressive cathedral in town.  The inside has been painted in different coloured bands to look like the marble layers in the Italian ones.  It reminds us of our trip to India when we encountered the remains of St Francis Xavier in a church in Old Goa.  It reaches an un seasonal high of 34C in the afternoon – perfect for making use of the swimming pool.
Saturday 23 October  Steve has turned into a nocturnal creature having found sport on TV in the middle of the night again and for the next 2 nights.  I spend the day sorting the photos whilst Steve snoozes either in bed or outside in the sun.  What a life.
Sunday 24 October  The "Fossils" call round in the morning and I join them for a visit to the town market.  The bakery are selling off boxes of 12 fresh cream cakes at $4 (£1.60) and of course I can’t resist.  A lazy afternoon on site then out with the "Fossils" in the evening to visit the Irish Bar "The Freemasons".  The $15 (£6) 3 course carvery buffet is excellent and includes a half pint of Guinness.  A band is playing and we have a most enjoyable time.  Phone Claire and hear that David is now working in Valencia and enjoying the sunshine.
Monday 25 October  Steve makes it to bed at 6.00am complaining that England have lost everything.  At least it means we can get into a normal sleeping routine when we hit the road on Wednesday!  Mail from Netty and also the Olympic ticket notification.  Steve spends the morning selecting some more Athletic events for the second round draw.  Join the "Fossils" and also Sharyn and Patrick at their caravan park for an evening of cards and chatter.
Tuesday 26 October  Claire phones just after midnight with news that the hospital have had a cancellation and Mum has gone in to have her heart operation.  Manage to speak to Mum at the hospital then spend a very restless night fretting.  Get up and keep myself occupied giving the van a big clean up and sort out.  Claire phones again to say the operation is scheduled for 1pm (8pm here) and should take 4 hours.  Netty is off to Florida on Thursday so it’s a bit of a worry as to who is going to look after Mum but we will take things a step at a time.  Mum was very cheerful and talking about visiting us in New Zealand and Auntie Joan in Canada next year as soon as she gets the all clear to fly.  
Wednesday 27 October  Claire phones just after midnight with the excellent news that the operation went well.  Will have to make regular phone calls over the next few days to check on Mum’s progress but it is already a great relief.  Roly and Gwen turn up on the pitch next to us just as we are about to leave.  We chat to them and then Shirley and Les in the caravan behind us.  They have a  video so we change plans and spend the day down loading more tapes to send back.  Dave and Lorraine join us.  They hit a tree with their caravan and are now staying in a bungalow until it has been repaired.  Call Netty in the evening for an update but they are just about to go and visit.
Thursday 28 October  Get up at 2.30am to catch Claire for the latest news.  Mum is doing brilliantly.  She only has one tube left in and they are talking of moving her straight to the normal ward tomorrow instead of the high dependency unit.  Always knew she was a fighter but this progress is amazing.  Spend time in town e-mailing and having typed that Mum has just had heart surgery in hospital, Steve cracks up laughing.  I look at him in disgust then he says "well of course it was in hospital, you wouldn’t expect her to have it in the front room at home would you?".   The road out of town is lined with houses and lots have a stand in their front garden.  They are all the same and sell 1 kilo of tomatoes for $1 (40p).  Greenough hamlet is of great historical value to the Australians.  We check out the pioneer homestead museum $2.50 (£1) which is interesting as we have a personal guide for part of it.  The village itself is a National Trust pay job and with half a dozen houses of the late 1800’s doesn’t appeal to our idea of old buildings.  Ellendale Pool looks like a pleasant spot until we get out of the van and are welcomed by the flies.  Shirley & John and Gwen & Roly are also here.  A man comes out of the 3rd caravan and recognises us.  We met Gerry and Ann on 5th April at Dutton Bay and haven’t seen them since.  The pool looks inviting until 3 trucks of workmen arrive to put up some signs. (They look a bit Irish with one holding the sign, one digging a hole and one hammering the post in). "Warning – Amoebic Meningitis".  When the water is over 24C bacteria thrive and they don’t recommend swimming.  Having no thermometer we decide the water doesn’t look so inviting after all!
Friday 29 October  Entertainment is provided by a mini bus full of prisoners who come for a BBQ.  Obviously very low class prisoners being left to wander freely by the solitary  guard.  A couple glance at the signs then jump into the water. The warning recommends that you pinch your nose to keep water out but these guys jump off the high cliffs with total abandon. Do they know something we don’t?  Join Roly and Gwen for an evening of Rummy Cub.
Saturday 30 October  The flies are intolerable and we leave early to check out nearby coalseam reserve.  This is the main wildflower region but we are just too late to see the everlasting flowers but make do see quite a few colourful shrubs on the roadside.  We are not impressed with the flies, lack of flowers and no sign of the rock embedded fossils when we go on the walk.  Heading towards the coast we spot an incongruous huge rig in a wheat field.   I read up that oil and gas are found here, pumped up and sent down South.  Dongara is a pleasant seaside town with the main street lined with enormous Moreton Bay fig trees.  Unimpressed with the heritage walk we abandon it when we get to the bakery which offers free tea and coffee.  I am tempted by a vanilla slice but somehow Steve holds off from the fresh pies.  Port Denison has a very nice beach with a windsurfing section and then a calm area known as "Granny Bay".  The marina is pretty and we get a good view from the lookout although the wind nearly blasts us away.  The wind here is notorious from October until March but at least it blows most of the flies away!  Cliff Head further South is a popular fishing spot.  Dozens of fishermens huts are here with some looking like derelict garden sheds and others as big as a bungalow.  No one is around so we park at the back on the grass below the cliffs which have a few small caves.  Fortunately the spot is sheltered and the wind and flies are less of a problem.
Sunday 31 October  Western Flora caravan park has been recommended and having phoned yesterday to check they have TV reception and no flies we are dissapointed to find both answers wrong.  Claim our money back and head to Eneabba mining town of just over 200 population.  Phone hospital and get the surprise news that Mum is home.  Will have to wait until this afternoon to call her as we are now 8 hours ahead of G.M.T.  There’s a lovely 25m swimming pool with manager/lifeguard/cleaner Harry from Cheshire.  It’s normally $1.50 (60p) but he says we can have a free swim.  He tells us all small towns now have pools and this runs at at $30,000 (£12,000) year loss.  The town also has 4 tennis courts which are in use all afternoon.   Spend the afternoon by the pool and phone Mum to find she is very sore and tired but basically home and through the worst.  David is now near Barcelona and going back to England in December before going to America on a 2 year contract.  Daz has a new job starting tomorrow so things are looking good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: