A Travellerspoint blog

Cape Le Grand National Park

The whitest beach in Australia

24 °C
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Cape Le Grand National Park

56km east of Esperance is Cape Le Grand National Park, which features some of the most beautiful beaches on earth, like Lucky Bay, Hellfire Bay, Le Grand Beach and Thistle Cove. Lucky Bay is famous for its pure white fine sand and the kangaroos that play on the beach.

Lucky Bay was “discovered” by Matthew Flinders when navigating into a storm in the treacherous Archipelago of the Recherche in January 1802. He soon found his ship surrounded by a large number islands and rocks. Nightfall was coming on. When they eventually found shelter in the bay just before nightfall, he named it Lucky Bay.

We ended up staying three nights because it was just so peaceful and beautiful. The sand is so fine is feels unreal, and squeaks when you walk barefoot. Lucky Bay was voted the whitest beach in Australia (a tough call when compared to Esperance, but probably true). Kangaroos are everywhere, and are so used to people that you can touch them and walk between them in the camping area as well. One weird day we had 37 degrees (with 24 degrees on either side) and there were flies everywhere ... only to disappear again the next day.

We did short drives in the park to climb Frenchman Peak (very steep) for some magnificent panoramic views. Visits/picnics at Thistle Cove and Hellfire Bay were so lovely with birds everywhere, a whistling rock and places where the ocean pours through holes in the rock plates. At Frenchman Peak we had a wonderful conversation with two German backpackers who have been sleeping in their station wagon every night for the last four months (nothing that unusual) but… they have never paid for a night’s accommodation! It can be done (if you’re young enough!)

One of the unexpected highlights was to find real coffee on the beach. I can safely say that I’ve never bought a cappuccino from an Aboriginal barista, on a white sandy beach, surrounded by kangaroos before!

Now we were ready to tackle the Nullarbor. Time to head north for 200km and then east!

Towards Thistle Cove

Towards Thistle Cove

Softest sand even

Softest sand even

Making friends in Lucky Bay

Making friends in Lucky Bay

Lucky Bay

Lucky Bay

Lucky Bay camp site from opposite hill

Lucky Bay camp site from opposite hill

Kangacino with BNE grey nomads

Kangacino with BNE grey nomads

Has the cricket strated yet

Has the cricket strated yet

Frenchman Peak whcich we climbed

Frenchman Peak whcich we climbed

Frenchman Peak view towards Hellfire Bay

Frenchman Peak view towards Hellfire Bay

Frenchman Peak steep climb

Frenchman Peak steep climb

Frenchman Peak double open ended cave

Frenchman Peak double open ended cave

Esperance stonehenge

Esperance stonehenge

Esperance Stonehenge up to 8m high

Esperance Stonehenge up to 8m high

Esperance Stonehenge sacrifice is ready

Esperance Stonehenge sacrifice is ready

Esperance Stonehenge (2)

Esperance Stonehenge (2)

Cape le Grand National Park

Cape le Grand National Park

Posted by ChrisHenriette 00:49 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Esperance

The most beautiful beach in Australia?

22 °C
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Esperance (Pop 15 000)

I’ve always wanted to visit Esperance, but never seemed to be able to fit in into our holidaying schedule when we lived in Perth. Named after a French ship that visited in 1792, Esperance is a beach and nature-lover's dream, with squeaky-clean beaches, turquoise waters, untouched islands (I counted 100 once from my Boeing window) and a pink lake (not pink when we visited because the algae weren’t doing their thing).

The town is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve seen. This includes stunning Twilight Beach (voted most beautiful in Australia in 2006), and viewpoints everywhere along the Great Ocean Drive to stop in awe.

We loved Blue Haven, Nine Mile Beach and Ten Mile Lagoon, all stunning beaches with huge Southern Ocean waves breaking onto the shore. At one stop I counted 29 Islands. Breathtaking!

Would you not go down there

Would you not go down there

We checked out a wind farm

We checked out a wind farm

Twilight Beach voted best in Aus

Twilight Beach voted best in Aus

Responsible for 23% o the power in town

Responsible for 23% of the power in town

Replica of Skylab that fell near Balladonia in 1979

Replica of Skylab that fell near Balladonia in 1979

One of two wind farms overlooking heaven

One of two wind farms overlooking heaven

Observation point for whale watching

Observation point for whale watching

Lots of cute shops

Lots of cute shops

I've read 91 books so far this year

I've read 91 books so far this year

Interesting beaches

Interesting beaches

Guys doing what guys do

Guys doing what guys do

Espereance is so pretty

Espereance is so pretty

Esperance and surrounds

Esperance and surrounds

Posted by ChrisHenriette 14:04 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Munglinup

If you don't know where this is, you've missed out

23 °C
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Munglinup

After The beautiful mountains of the Stirling Range, we were on our way to Esperance, or so we thought. It was further than we felt like doing, so we turned off towards Munglinup Beach.

What a surprise this stop was. We had a beautiful beach mostly to ourselves. We swam and snorkelled in a natural lagoon formed by rock formations in the ocean. We did long walks with only birds to accompany us. Every day we climber a huge dune from where we got mobile reception (catching up with emails and WhatsApp). What was supposed to be a stopover, turned into a three night stay. Brilliant new toilets and park layout… all for $10 per night.

Top tips: The highest dune is where you will get phone and email contact. Also, the poolthat looks like an obvious snorkelling spot, is actually a great spot – do it! And, the toilets are brand new.

Welcome swallow

Welcome swallow

View to the East

View to the East

Top of the dune where we had Internet connection

Top of the dune where we had Internet connection

Snorkelling in the Southern Ocean for the first time

Snorkelling in the Southern Ocean for the first time

Red winged fairy wren

Red winged fairy wren

Lone neighbour testing his skills

Lone neighbour testing his skills

Life everywhere

Life everywhere

Checking out the snorkeling potential

Checking out the snorkeling potential

Camp site revamped

Camp site revamped

Amazing bright red star fish

Amazing bright red star fish

Posted by ChrisHenriette 04:20 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Stirling Range National Park

Surrounded by moutains and birds

21 °C
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The Stirling Range

80 km north of Albany, we stopped for a night in the beautiful Stirling Range National Park , surrounded by huge trees, abundant birdlife and spectacular views of the mountain range (a chilly 8 degrees at night on 20 Nov). The range stretches for 65km from east to west and is recognised internationally as one of the world’s top 35 hotspots for biodiversity. Bluff Knoll is the highest peak in the south west, at 1095m.

This gave us the opportunity to break up the trip to Esperance, but also to experience the quiet of just us and two most amazing ladies that camped near us. I’ve included 2 photos of the 1500 species of flowering plants that exist here.

Nice anecdote: These two ladies in question are retired mental health care specialists, three years into a 10 year trip around Australia. One is a keen photographer and acrylic painter and the other about to finish her first novel. They shared their lovely motto with us: Slow, simple, small and serene. Nice motto.

Stirling Range National Park

Stirling Range National Park

Peaceful surrounds for writing this blog

Peaceful surrounds for writing this blog

Meeting wonderful people is part of it

Meeting wonderful people is part of it

Leaving the Stirling Range

Leaving the Stirling Range

Flowers in the Stirling Range

Flowers in the Stirling Range

Flowers everywhere

Flowers everywhere

Posted by ChrisHenriette 02:20 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Albany

Surprisingly beautiful city

semi-overcast 21 °C
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Albany (Pop 34 000)

We camped at Emu Point, right on Emu Beach. It is a lovely park with long winding cycle and walkways along the beaches. So close to the ocean and yet right on the city doorstep. Albany is a surprisingly attractive city (six-largest population centre, and oldest permanently settled town in WA by 2 years) we last saw more than a decade ago. It has so much going for it.

Special highlights were Middleton Beach, the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial (brilliant views to the bays) and to walk for kilometres along Emu Beach.

If you ever do visit Albany, I believe that a must see is The Gap and Natural Bridge. A stainless steel viewing platform was installed as recently as May and has transformed the experience of visiting this special place. You can look down through the grid or look over the sides, and see the angry ocean 25 storeys below. The sound and the colours will just blow you away. It is impossible to capture the experience on a photo. Henriette has no love for heights… and went back for a second time! It was a true highlight. What a great way to improve tourism!

On Saturday I caught up with friends and colleagues at the South West Region meeting of the UCA and after a visit to at the farmer’s market, we were off towards the Stirling Range National Park.

Western Rosella

Western Rosella

Uniting Church Manse

Uniting Church Manse

The long pathway passing our caravan park

The long pathway passing our caravan park

Stainless steel platform at The Gap

Stainless steel platform at The Gap

St John oldest consecrated church in WA

St John oldest consecrated church in WA

Roaring ocean at The Gap 75m up

Roaring ocean at The Gap 75m up

Red Capped Parrot

Red Capped Parrot

Panoramic of Albany with mounted ANZAC monument

Panoramic of Albany with mounted ANZAC monument

One of many viewing points of the bays

One of many viewing points of the bays

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

National ANZAC memorial

National ANZAC memorial

In front of our caravan park

In front of our caravan park

Albany with successful wind farms

Albany with successful wind farms

Posted by ChrisHenriette 17:09 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Denmark and Peaceful Bay

Some of the most beautiful forests to walk in

semi-overcast 23 °C
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Denmark (Pop 2200) and Peaceful Bay (Pop 360)

12ha of lush caravan park right next to an amazing bay means true peace and relaxation. Using Peaceful Bay as a base, we were able to explore the areas of Walpole, and the Valley of the Giants. Our camp site was only 100m from the beach, allowing us lovely walks in two serene bays, including sitting on the beach to view the super moon on 14 Nov.

We did a day of driving (200km) through the surrounding area, walking through tranquil forests, imposing granite peaks, peaceful rivers, wetlands, and lovely beaches. A highlight for us was seeing and walking in the majestic tingle and karri forests with the tallest (the Giant Tingle) reaching 25 storeys and with bottom circumference of 24m. Some of the trees are over 400 years old (tip: the road to the Giant Tingle is one way- look at the map before going). The 420m long Tree Top Walk is another highlight, reaching 40m in height and offering a bird’s eye view of these forests.

On the road to Albany we did a half day stop in charming and picturesque Denmark, on the banks of the river. It never ceases to amaze us how much character these little towns possess.

Tree top walk is 40m high

Tree top walk is 40m high

Top of the world on tree top walk

Top of the world on tree top walk

Swarbrick Art Walk-my halo slipping

Swarbrick Art Walk-my halo slipping

Swarbrick Art Walk in the forrest

Swarbrick Art Walk in the forrest

St Leonards inside

St Leonards inside

St Leonards in Denmark

St Leonards in Denmark

Red Tingle Tree

Red Tingle Tree

Red Tingle big enough to reverse our caravan into

Red Tingle big enough to reverse our caravan into

Peaceful Bay

Peaceful Bay

One of many Red Tigle trees that have survived 2 bush fires in 100 yrs

One of many Red Tigle trees that have survived 2 bush fires in 100 yrs

Farmer, her dog and the sheep

Farmer, her dog and the sheep

Between Walpole and Peaceful Bay

Between Walpole and Peaceful Bay

Posted by ChrisHenriette 22:03 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Quinninup

Surrounded by native animals

sunny 23 °C
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Quinninup (Pop 370)

What a find Quinninup Caravan Park was! With one campervan 100m from us and surrounded by more than 20 Kangaroos (up to 50 on some days), a couple of Emus (you can hand feed them) and lots of 28 Parrots, we were in heaven.

A special surprise was when a Magpie approached me, softly singing. I stood still, surprised, as it came walking purposefully towards me. It dawned on me that he had the visitors trained, so I obliged and fed him… his reward was to sing to me while this was happening.
I'm well trained!

Where has my leg gone

Where has my leg gone

Surrounded by Kangaroos in Quinninup

Surrounded by Kangaroos in Quinninup

Sharing a carrot with an Emu

Sharing a carrot with an Emu

Kneeling for a head rub with the park owner

Kneeling for a head rub with the park owner

Friendly locals in Quinninup

Friendly locals in Quinninup

Emu checking our food supplies

Emu checking our food supplies

Donnybrook the apple capital

Donnybrook the apple capital

Camp kitchen in Quinninup

Camp kitchen in Quinninup

Posted by ChrisHenriette 21:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australind and Bunbury

Gateway to Gnomesville!

semi-overcast 22 °C
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Australind and Bunbury (Pop 33 000)

Our first stop after leaving Perth was at Australind. This was our last chance to say goodbye to our daughter and to get the van all ready for the next big part of the journey (this included servicing the Prado and the Jayco).

We did a visit to Gnomesville, which was a wonderful surprise. A spontaneous collection next to the main road has developed into a significant tourist destination that now includes over 4000 gnomes. It all started when one lady from Dardanup noticed a large redgum tree with a hollow close to the ground, and realised the potential for this to be a home for a Gnome. Others followed and today it one of the 100 must see sites in Australia.

The journey inland took us through beautiful towns like Donnybrook (ooooh, Donnybooks is one of the top two bookshops in WA), Bridgetown, and Manjimup. It does mean towing the caravan along very narrow roads, up and down the winding roads, but who cares when you have all day to do a couple of hundred kilometres?

Not all the neighbours are happy

Not all the neighbours are happy

Look out for Gnomesville on the map

Look out for Gnomesville on the map

Locals from nearby Donnybrook

Locals from nearby Donnybrook

It is actually a Jayco caravan

It is actually a Jayco caravan

I hope the church isn't the misgnomer

I hope the church isn't the misgnomer

Gnomesville

Gnomesville

Gnomesville detention centre

Gnomesville detention centre

Posted by ChrisHenriette 21:51 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

We took a break in Perth

Catching up with friends and our kids

rain 20 °C
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Perth (Pop 2.04 mil)
After more than threemonths in Perth to catch up with our kids and many friends, it was time to move on.

I won’t elaborate too much on Perth (don’t get me started, I can write a book about this wonderful city). Because we lived here for a decade and have such fond memories, I would not be able to make a short selection of highlights. I’ve included a small selection of photos taken in Kings Park, which is a must see every time you come for a visit. I’ve also put in some other photos illustrative of this diverse city.

We also took the hard decision to bypass popular tourist towns like Busselton, Margaret River, Augusta and Pemberton. This may seems radical (and a major mistake) to some, but for us these towns are so familiar after residing in Perth from 2002 to 2013, that we needed to make the tough call… there is so much awaiting on our continued journey, that we needed to get going.

Wild flowers in Kings Park

Wild flowers in Kings Park

Waiting for Andre Rieu

Waiting for Andre Rieu

WA state flower - Kangaroo Paw

WA state flower - Kangaroo Paw

Perth from Kings Park

Perth from Kings Park

Perth Arena

Perth Arena

Kangaroo Paw flower depositing pollen on Red Wattle Bird

Kangaroo Paw flower depositing pollen on Red Wattle Bird

Fremantle Markets

Fremantle Markets

Black Swans in Floreat

Black Swans in Floreat

Araluen tulips

Araluen tulips

ANZAC memorial in Kings Park

ANZAC memorial in Kings Park

Posted by ChrisHenriette 21:40 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Yanchep National Park

Amazing park just north of Perth

16 °C
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Yanchep National Park

After a drive with strong headwinds, we pulled into Yanchep National Park just north of Perth. We knew that we would be one of the first to camp in the new camp site as camping has only been allowed since 3 weeks ago. And what a great place this is. We immediately decided to extend and do most of the shorter walks, as well as visiting the Crystal Caves (one of 580 caves in the area).

It was a surprise to visit the koala enclosure (large area with 9 koalas). Koalas are not endemic to WA, but here they care for and allow the public to get close to 9 cuddly ones (both the brown ones from the southern states and the smaller grey ones from Queensland).

The park abounds in western grey kangaroos (hopping around the camping area and everywhere you walk).

We particularly enjoyed the abundant bird life and so many of the native shrubs flowering.

Camp hosts: A word to explain how the national parks operate using camp hosts. In this park as with most of the 8 visits we’ve had so far to National parks in WA, volunteers act as camp hosts. They’re mostly retirees who’ve been equipped, and who stay in their own caravans. They welcome new arrivals, and do a few chores around the park (from replacing toilet rolls to helping you find your spot). In exchange they stay for free and receive benefits that range from free access to other parks to even a refill of their diesel and a $100 grocery voucher on occasion.

With our batteries recharged after the last few days of hard driving into winter, we now go onto Perth and Fremantle. Here we plan to stop for a bit over 2 months to out-wait the winter and catch up with friends and our kids. I’m excited about doing supply in Floreat when a colleague is on long service leave.

Visitor Centre in Yanchep Nat Park

Visitor Centre in Yanchep Nat Park

Strange art in the park

Strange art in the park

Prescribed burning of grass trees in park

Prescribed burning of grass trees in park

One of the beutiful walks we did

One of the beutiful walks we did

Lovely tree roots

Lovely tree roots

Koalas in Yanchep

Koalas in Yanchep

Inside Crystal Cave

Inside Crystal Cave

History of Crystal Cave

History of Crystal Cave

Female Splendid Fairy Wren

Female Splendid Fairy Wren

Eastern Grey Kangeroo with Joey

Eastern Grey Kangeroo with Joey

Crystal Cave

Crystal Cave

Beautifl Banksias flowering

Beautifl Banksias flowering

Australian Ringneck also known as 28 parakeet

Australian Ringneck also known as 28 parakeet

Posted by ChrisHenriette 04:50 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

The Stromatolites are true magic

Coral Bay, Carnarvon, and Hamelin Pool

22 °C
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Quick stopover in Coral Bay.
Turned in for a quick hot pie and a good coffee, but decided not to stay as it was bucketing down, making snorkelling impossible.

Carnarvon (pop 9000)
Carnarvon is the commercial centre for the rich Gascoyne district. There are luxurious plantations of bananas and other tropical fruits all grown with the aid of water pumped out of the sand of the Gascoyne River (the river wasn’t flowing this time as we passed over it).
We went to the new fascine, bought freshly cooked prawns, and went to the space museum. “The Dish” has an amazing history (see one of the best Aussie movies ever made with the same title) as it was instrumental in bringing the first moon landing to TV’s all over the world (filling a gap in the US network that would have made us miss it all!). What a rich source of history this place is.

Heart-warming story: When we went to buy prawns, someone bought the last kilo from the counter just before us. As he walked out, I asked the owner if that was the last of the batch, and she replied in the affirmative. The gentleman at the door turned around and offered the prawns (he had just bought) to us, saying “I’m here for a few days, I can always come back and get more. You have it”. Some people are just so nice.

Hamelin Pool is a sacred place (pop under 10)
This was a dodgy little caravan park, but we had to come back after 10 years because the area is to us a most special place. This is where you can truly feel like you are a witness to the creation of life on earth. It is one of only a few places on the planet where stromatolites still live (fossils exist in many places, but these are alive!) Stromatolites are cyanobacteria that trap sediments and create “living rocks”. The covered 75% of the earth’s surface 3.5 billion years ago and they started creating oxygen (you can see the bubbles form). They did this so well over so many years that other living organisms started to develop because they helped create an atmosphere. And the life they helped create ended up devouring them until only a few spots of them remained. They survived here because the salinity here is very high (2.5 times normal) making it impossible for most of their enemies to survive.

Then there is shell beach. 190km of small compacted shells, up to 10m deep. Just amazing. There is a quarry where bricks were cut from to build several homesteads and other buildings from years ago (due to a lack of straight trees and rocks as building material). There is even a church in Denham built from shell bricks.

Port Denison (Dongara) Pop 3500
We pushed on towards Perth, bypassing some beautiful places, but we have a deadline to be in Perth by the weekend. We also know this coastline very well from the time we were living in Perth for 10 years. So, the hope is to see the newly created camp sites in Yanchep National park next, before reaching Perth.

We had a long walk along the marina and simply enjoyed listening to the waves break next to us all evening.

Stromatolites

Stromatolites

Stromatolites damaged by wool wagon wheels 60 years ago

Stromatolites damaged by wool wagon wheels 60 years ago

Stromatolite walking route

Stromatolite walking route

Stromatolite story

Stromatolite story

Stromatolite in aquarium still producing oxygen

Stromatolite in aquarium still producing oxygen

Shark Bay is home to stromatolites shells and Monkey Mia

Shark Bay is home to stromatolites shells and Monkey Mia

Lesser sand plover on shells 10m deep

Lesser sand plover on shells 10m deep

Hamelin pool toilet block built with shell bricks

Hamelin pool toilet block built with shell bricks

Hamelin Pool shell brick quarry

Hamelin Pool shell brick quarry

Flowers everywhere

Flowers everywhere

Famous River Gum in Grenough showing how windy it is here

Famous River Gum in Grenough showing how windy it is here

Famous Dish in Carnarvon

Famous Dish in Carnarvon

Dongara Port Denison

Dongara Port Denison

Do we look fat in these in Carnarvon

Do we look fat in these in Carnarvon

Coral Bay toilet block a good place for backpacker to cook in rain

Coral Bay toilet block a good place for backpacker to cook in rain

Carnarvon

Carnarvon

Camp kitchen in Dongara Caravan Park

Camp kitchen in Dongara Caravan Park

Bypassing Kalbarri

Bypassing Kalbarri

Buzz Aldrin opened the space museum in Carnarvon

Buzz Aldrin opened the space museum in Carnarvon

Posted by ChrisHenriette 06:34 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef

Some of the best snorkelling in the world

25 °C
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Exmouth (pop 2400 swelling to 6000 in peak season)

What a difference 10 years makes! That’s how long ago it was when we last visited this town. Back then is was depressing place with a seemingly ambitious marina under construction. Today it is a beautiful town, full of life. We stayed in Exmouth as the National Park was booked out during the school holidays.

We loved the cycling routes, the daily movies shown in the caravan park, and the well-designed marina.

We drove around to Cape range National Park (Ningaloo Reef) for snorkelling . And the snorkelling was as good as we remembered. i don't thikn I have even seen that many fish in one day. At times the wind was strong, making it challenging, but it didn’t stop me snorkelling in Cape Range (Ningaloo) 5 times. Henriette went 3 times, when conditions were a bit easier. One of the snorkels at the Oyster Stacks was in the top ones I’ve ever had. Just more fish than I’ve ever seen. At one stage I put my and into a school of yellow and black sergeant fish to prove to myself that there we so many that I couldn’t see my hand. What an experience to snorkel in July with the temperature 24 degrees and the ocean warmer at 25 degrees!

Trivia: See the photo below taken from a view point at the light house (halfway between Exmouth and the Reef) to see the communication structures that are about 90m taller than the Eiffel Tower of the Empire State building (17 metres of concrete foundations). They were built in 1963 during the Cuban missile crisis to help the USA cover blind spots in communication. They’re still being used to good effect today.

We missed out seeing our daughter (Suret) as planned, because the wind made the cruise ship she was travelling on divert and miss out on Exmouth. We were disappointed, but will catch up in Perth soon.

It is time to turn south and face the winter.

White winged fairy wren

White winged fairy wren

that is what 20 knots looks like

that is what 20 knots looks like

Spotting a humpback whale

Spotting a humpback whale

Long beaches in 6000 sq km park

Long beaches in 6000 sq km park

Lighthouse caravan park and communication towers

Lighthouse caravan park and communication towers

Getting ready to snorkel at Oyster Stacks

Getting ready to snorkel at Oyster Stacks

Emu visiting us in caravan park

Emu visiting us in caravan park

Crystal clear waters

Crystal clear waters

Cape Range Nat Park visitor centre

Cape Range Nat Park visitor centre

Posted by ChrisHenriette 05:47 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Bullara Station stay was great

Ans some free camping next to Yannarie River

22 °C
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Yannarie River free camping and Bullara Station stay

We passed through Paraburdoo just to catch up on some grocery shopping. It is a pretty town with clear indications (as is the case with most mining towns) of the local mine (Rio Tinto) spending to improve the town. Our experience has been that most mining towns are quite pretty.

We stayed next to the Yannarie River (free camp) and enjoyed long walks along the river banks. There is a bus that comes daily (from a station nearby) and offers hot food and coffee!

Another surprise was how scenic this route was. 250km of mountains and very diverse vegetation made for a really enjoyable drive despite hitting some head winds. In one straight stretch we had road sign warning us that the road may sometimes function as an emergency landing strip for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (so you just need to pullover I guess! )

The temperatures started reflecting the fact that is was July. 12 min and 21 degrees max camping make for nice fires in the evening.

We’ve seen some really unseasonal downpours for the Pilbara. The Ashburton River was in flood and some locals told us they haven’t seen that in years. In some places we only pulled over to use the toilets as it was really too wet to camp. According to the radio news, Australian grain production is projected to be between 17 000 and 20 000 tonnes (the best since 2004).

We read on Wikicamps about wonderful stays at Bullara Station so we drove in only to be so pleasantly surprised, that we stayed a bit longer. The showers (see photo) have no ceilings, with beautiful tree stumps inside and a real “donkey” providing the hot water. Every evening “Damper” John cooks his special damper on the camp fire and feeds a very appreciative crowd. He opens the conversation with a poem (see photo) about the station, and that starts a wonderful evening of sharing stories. It is so good to see how tourism has saved farmers like these (with 1600 head of cattle the Julia Gillard live export ban to Indonesia in 2013 almost wiped them out with 2 years of nowhere to sell their cattle).

Off to Exmouth next.

Yannarie River free camp

Yannarie River free camp

Sometimes a free camp is too wet and you move on

Sometimes a free camp is too wet and you move on

Part of the highway where The Royal Flying Dr might surprise you

Part of the highway where The Royal Flying Dr might surprise you

Green Birdflower looks like hummingbirds

Green Birdflower looks like hummingbirds

Food bus visiting us at free camp

Food bus visiting us at free camp

Bullara station sheep shearing shed

Bullara station sheep shearing shed

Bullara station outdoor showers with donkey hot water

Bullara station outdoor showers with donkey hot water

Bullara station damper each evening

Bullara station damper each evening

Bullara Station camp kitchen

Bullara Station camp kitchen

Bullara station camp fire

Bullara station camp fire

Bullara station bush walk ends at red dunes

Bullara station bush walk ends at red dunes

Bullara poem

Bullara poem

Bullara damper recipe

Bullara damper recipe

Brownie and  the 250k km Landcruiser at the station

Brownie and the 250k km Landcruiser at the station

Big mining truck as we leave Tom Price

Big mining truck as we leave Tom Price

Ashburton River in flood

Ashburton River in flood

Posted by ChrisHenriette 00:13 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Back to Karijini

Completing the bucket list visit after the deluge

18 °C
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Tom Price (pop 2700) and back to Karijini
Tom Price has a population with the low median age of 29 reflecting the relatively young family-oriented community that are employed by Rio Tinto. We were surprised to find an attractive town surrounded by mountains. It is small, but pretty. When we asked at the visitor centre where we could buy some warm footwear (Ugg Boots?), they just laughed. Cold, wet weather is not common in this area! “We don’t need that for the other 355 days per year, mate”

Trivia: The town is nicknamed “The top town in WA” because it is the highest town above sea level in WA.

As we packed up and left, we stopped at the visitor centre for some advice on possible road closures, only to witness a call from the ranger at Karijini to inform them that the park has been opened for the day (after the deluge!) So, we turned around and went back to the same caravan park… and off we went back to Karijini. We were so disappointed to have missed our walking all the gorges at the Weano end that we took the dramatic step to turn around and drive back (leaving the caravan in Tom Price).

It was quite a day! The last 13km of dirt road was some of the roughest I have ever negotiated (because of the heavy rain of the last week). And then we arrived at the gorges and the water was flowing. We were truly surprised they actually allowed people in as it was very, very tough. Now we know what is meant by class 5 walking (only for very experienced hikers). There were times I found it so hard I really worried about losing my camera in the water. This included walking in streams up to neck deep and some swimming. Very slippery rocks with fast flowing streams, and more. And it was so exciting! We were so happy that we went back. Karijini is a bucket list stop. And we did it!

Tomorrow we leave for Paraburdoo, aching in places that didn’t ache when we were younger, but very happy.

Trivia: It seems the Australian public love free range eggs so much that a shortage has developed in the north. The argument is that because so many chickens are now free range, they are feeling the cold at present (being outside) and are laying less eggs than normal. So no eggs in the local Woolworths for us up here!

Through water and narrow gorges

Through water and narrow gorges

Three km long train makes you wait

Three km long train makes you wait

The gorges we walked on the second go

The gorges we walked on the second go

Strange ants

Strange ants

Spider walking narrow narrow gorges

Spider walking narrow narrow gorges

Slippery after the rain

Slippery after the rain

See the people climbing down the vertical handrail to pool

See the people climbing down the vertical handrail to pool

One of many deep challenges

One of many deep challenges

Mt Bruce is second highest in WA

Mt Bruce is second highest in WA

Lookout to view gorge down below

Lookout to view gorge down below

Live entertainment at Tom Price Toursit Park

Live entertainment at Tom Price Toursit Park

It is clear when people visited Karijini

It is clear when people visited Karijini

I found some mud mum

I found some mud mum

Falls at handrail pool

Falls at handrail pool

Entering a gorge when still dry

Entering a gorge when still dry

Posted by ChrisHenriette 06:38 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Karijini National Park

Heaps of unseasonl rain but still brilliant

17 °C
View Our big lap of Australia on ChrisHenriette's travel map.

Albert Tognolini Rest Area (free camp)
We opted for a night in the rest area to allow us early entry into Karijini National Park. If we drove straight from Port Hedland, we would arrive so late in the day that finding a nice camping spot might become an issue (school holidays have started in WA). We ended up camping on the edge of a gorge with wonderful views.

2 examples UHF radio use: When approaching a train crossing, suddenly our radio came alive with “Warning, warning, train crossing ahead” repeatedly.

2nd example. Here’s a transcript of my conversation with a truckie (Caltex Road Train) that approached me from behind:
Me: I’m happy to slow down when you’d like to pass me mate.
Truckie: Thanks mate, will do…. Here I come… Thanks
Me: No worries, you guys have work to do and we’re on holiday. Your turn will come.
Truckie: Can’t wait. I might stop around the next bend and let you fill up your diesel from my tanks ;-)
Trivia: On the road between Port Hedland and Karijini (the road that carries road trains on their way from Newman to the port), we decided to count only the road trains with 4 trailers (54m long each!) approaching us from the front (not counting the dozens of 3 trailer ones). And the count: 97 in 270km! Scary stuff.

Karijini National Park
Another amazing National Park. Karijini in the Hamersley Range is Western Australia's second largest national park. These are massive mountains....by Western Australian standards.

Despite experiencing heavy rain for most of 5 days, we enjoyed walking as much as we could in the gaps of cloud cover when the rain ceased. We couldn’t do the gorges at Weano as the rain forced road closures and the gorges themselves (reason to return one day). We enjoyed the bits we could do so much. Everywhere there is Red Iron Oxide, Dolomite and Shale with some strips of Asbestos. Who thought that iron ore could be so beautiful? We loved the ferns, the deep gorges, the colours, and the bird life (saw a painted finch and heaps of western bower birds and many more). Because of the cloud cover I had minimal light to work with, so the photos don’t really do justice to the magnitude and colours of the gorges. Still, the photos below should make you put this one on your bucket list.

It was good to learn that our water tanks could take us to six days (short showers!) and the solar panels coped with very minimal light as the clouds were heavy and the rain sometimes relentless.

With a lot more rain predicted, the expectation wasn’t for the closed gorges to open again soon, so we left for Tom Price (powered site to recharge the caravan battery, all our equipment and get internet and phone reception).

Western Bower Bird eating wild figs

Western Bower Bird eating wild figs

Walking on the rim of Dales Gorge

Walking on the rim of Dales Gorge

The bottom of Dales Gorge

The bottom of Dales Gorge

The ants in WA build in a different style from the Territory

The ants in WA build in a different style from the Territory

Snappy Gums everywhere

Snappy Gums everywhere

Karijini Visitor Centre iron building in iron ore area

Karijini Visitor Centre iron building in iron ore area

Karijini National Park

Karijini National Park

Karijini gorges

Karijini gorges

Iron ore and asbestos

Iron ore and asbestos

In 270km of mountainous area  97 long road trains

In 270km of mountainous area 97 long road trains

Hold on it is a long drop

Hold on it is a long drop

High mineral content colours the water

High mineral content colours the water

Fern pool someone swimming when it is 14 degrees

Fern pool someone swimming when it is 14 degrees

Fern pool from above

Fern pool from above

Fern lined edges

Fern lined edges

Circular pool

Circular pool

Circular pool at bottom

Circular pool at bottom

Albert Tognilini our caravan in top centre

Albert Tognilini our caravan in top centre

Albert Tognilini free camp our view

Albert Tognilini free camp our view

About to descend into Dales Gorge 283 iron steps

About to descend into Dales Gorge 283 iron steps

Posted by ChrisHenriette 05:12 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

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