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Welcome to our travel blog

For those new to this blog; this is the travel blog for our 2018 “Half Lap” of Australia. Have a look through it and we hope you enjoy the record of our 6 month trip from Melbourne, up the middle of Australia to Darwin then down the west coast, across the Nullabour back to Melbourne.

Posts are ordered with most recent at top of the page. There are other pages you can view using the navigation links above to pages – About this Site; Blog Index; Trip Map; Itinerary; Some Stats; Favourite Photos; Favourite Videos & Search. All links open in a new browser window.

We’d love some feedback so please let us know using the comments box on each post. Neil & Merrisa – the Touring Wombats


Apollo Bay Vic

About Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay is the iconic and major destination on the Great Ocean Road. Since the early 1800s it has evolved from a whaling station to a very typical seaside holiday resort with a rich variety of activities on the beach and in the water. The hinterland is noted for the foothills of the Otway Ranges with their wildlife and excellent bushwalking. The locals insist that it enjoys a micro-climate which makes it milder and warmer than the other towns on the Great Ocean Road.

Apollo Bay’s primary appeal is that it is accessible from Melbourne which has ensured its enduring importance as a tourist and holiday destination. It is also an important fishing port noted for its catches of crayfish, shark, whiting, flathead and snapper (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Apollo Bay Caravan Park

We have been to Apollo Bay countless times before and love to stay at the Apollo Bay Holiday Park, which is nice and close to town (maplink).

Around Apollo Bay

Well, welcome home to Victoria folks! Been away for just over 6 months and we are experiencing our first taste of serious rain! We hit Apollo Bay and it was the first time we had to set-up in the rain. Suppose beggars cannot be choosers (as the saying goes) as we have not experienced rain for the past 193 days of travel.

The scallop pies at the local bakery were excellent too.

We still managed to do some fishing (no luck there) and take the mandatory walk up to Mariners Lookout as well as take in the shops (several times) and while we were there Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior pulled into town as part of a protest about oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

Carisbrook Waterfall (maplink) was also a picturesque place to visit especially after the heavy rain we had just experienced.


The Great Ocean Road

You cannot travel along this part of the Victorian coastline without stopping off at the amazing sites of the shipwreck coast. So as we travelled from Port Fairy to Apollo Bay we stopped off at the Bay of Islands and 12 Apostles.

Even though we have done this many times in the past it was still a must do! We just could not believe how popular the 12 Apostles have become; there were literally thousands of people there; a kaleidoscope of humanity.

 

Promotional YouTube video of a 12 Apostles Helicopter Flight

Some links…


Port Fairy Vic

About Port Fairy

Port Fairy is a charming historic holiday town with an excess of attractions for visitors. There are museums, historic walks, charming stretches of coastline which are ideal for walking, a fascinating harbour, charming olde worlde cottages and the famous Port Fairy Folk Festival, which is held each March and is widely recognised as the best folk festival in the country (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Some useful links…

We arrived in the lovely coastal town of Port Fairy, checking into the Gardens Caravan Park for 3 days, which is in the perfect spot to stroll into town or to the beach (maplink). Really nice park with plenty of space. We just love Port Fairy and it was a must stop destination on our way home.

Took a walk around Griffiths Island which is home to thousands of mutton birds as well a fairy penguins. Checked out the lighthouse, which is not exactly stunning but still worth a look.

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

We’d heard a fair bit about Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve so headed out to check it out; only 15km east from Port Fairy (maplink).

Not sure if it was due to the amazing wildlife reserves and parks we had visited over the previous 6 months around Australia but this place was rather underwhelming. It requires an extensive weed eradication program to begin with. Really would not recommend this as a place to visit folks; however the emu’s are pretty cool.

Hopkins Falls (near Warrnambool)

We visited Warrnambool about 15 years ago with our boys for a holiday as well as some EzeScan work for the local Council & Wannon Water so decided to skip Warrnambool this time but just had to go back to Hopkins Falls after visiting it with our boys all those years ago (maplink).

The falls are about 90 meters wide but no that tall. This is a lovely spot and well maintained with plenty of information about the short-finned eels which travel from the Hopkins River all the way to the Coral Sea, near Vanuatu, to mate every year.

On the way back to Port Fairy we looked for and found a piece of artwork created by a Warrnambool local, which is a brilliant piece of wall art depicting a wombat coming out of the wall of a railway bridge. There is a very funny story about this artwork available on YouTube and is worth a look. Check it out below…

s all those years ago (maplink).


Nelson VIC

About Nelson

Nelson is a small fishing and holiday village near the mouth of the Glenelg River – where the river meets the Great Southern Ocean – in the south-western corner of Victoria. It is 6 km from the South Australian border. The town comprises the Nelson Hotel, a general store, a motel, holiday homes, a B&B and caravan parks. The remoteness of the area means that it has undergone little commercialisation. The estuary, river, rock ledges and beaches are noted for the fishing opportunities they afford and the tidal estuary has become a haven for waterbirds. River cruising and swimming are also popular (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Nelson Caravan Park

Nelson was the next stop on the last part of our trek east toward home. This is a beautiful little town (population 226) situated on the Glenelg River (maplink).

We pulled into the River-Vu Caravan Park which is right on the Glenelg River with the old heritage pub just over the road – a perfect spot for a couple of days.

Booked a small powerboat from Nelson Boat Hire and went for a tour of the Glenelg River stopping for a fish along the way – ahhh the serenity of it; beautiful.


Six Mile Inn Cairn (Mt Gambier) SA

Neil’s sister Janis has been researching the Alexander family tree and discovered a bit of history about our grandmother’s great grandfather, Robert Adams (our great great great grandfather). He built a pub just north of Mount Gambier in 1865; which was demolished in 1901 but there is a memorial cairn acknowledging it on the Riddoch Highway (maplink).

Our task was to locate the memorial cairn, which we did!

Here is a bit of history about it all…

My great/great/great grandfather Robert Adams was a convict sent to Van Dieman’s land. Robert was from Cheshire in England and was sentenced to 7 years for stealing 60lbs worth of iron worth 2/6d (25c), arriving in Tassie in January 1830.

Robert served five different masters and was not known as a model prisoner. He earned his ticket of leave and was freed into servitude to John Pascoe Fawkner in April 1836 and came back to Melbourne with him. When he had served his time with Fawkner, he went to work for the Learmonth brothers on a Sheep station at Buninyong, near Ballarat in Victoria.

Robert then worked with Joseph Hawdon and Charles Bonney and took the first herd of cattle to Adelaide, arriving in April 1838.

Robert settled in South Australia and settled into farming in the Robe area, Robert bought land at Peweena and built the Six Mile Inn in 1865. It was 6 miles from the centre of Mt Gambier. As well as running the pub he acted as the postmaster for Peweena and the mail coach stopped to pick up the mail bags. His son-in-law Yaxley Height was the last publican before the pub was demolished in 1901. Robert died in 1884.


Robe SA

About Robe

Robe is one of the most charming and unspoilt holiday destinations in Australia. Located on Guichen Bay, it combines a dramatic rocky, windswept coastline with a number of attractive and secluded beaches including the beautiful, 17 km long Long Beach. It is notable for its sophisticated town centre which not only has a wealth of historic buildings (the Heritage Trail lists more than fifty) but also offers fine dining with great local wines and chic cafes with very classy coffee. The real charm and character of Robe can best be experienced by walking the original streets which have been little altered since the 1860s. It is a very special town with a seductive ambience which has been well protected from over development (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

We had originally planned to stay at Kingston SE but the caravan park was right on the beach which was full of rank smelling rotting seaweed so we moved onto Robe which turned out to be a great choice. What a lovely place Robe is, with so many historic buildings and cafés.

We selected the Robe Discovery CP located just out of town on long beach (maplink).

A lot of historical buildings were erected in the mid 1800’s and have been restored to their original splendor by the owners and historical society. Robe also has a lot of very expensive looking holiday homes and large mariner with plenty of money moored there.

Took the usual coastal drive to check out things and found the Chinese memorial erected to commemorate 16,500 Chinese who landed at Robe between 1856-1858 and then walked 200 miles (320 km) to the Victorian goldfields in search of gold.

We also discovered the Robe Obelisk, erected erected in 1855 to assist ships and their navigators to the safe entrance into Guichen Bay. The obelisk is a famous landmark and is of special local historical significance.

Beachport

A day-trip to Beachport, 49kms south-east of Robe (maplink), is a really nice little town to visit, with it’s interesting street art and beautiful stone buildings and beyond the town centre it is a typical seaside resort with a relaxed beach holiday atmosphere.

Woakwine Cutting

On the way back to Robe we discovered Woakwine Cutting (maplink) which is an outstanding example of engineering. Accomplished by just two men, a D7 tractor was used to make a cutting through the Woakwine Range to drain swampland for farming.

The project began in May 1957 and took three years to complete. The length of the cutting is one kilometre and the depth at the deepest point is 28.34 metres. The width of the cutting at the top is 36.57 metres and three metres at the bottom. There were 276,000 cubic metres of material removed using a new D7 tractor over a total of 5000 hours.

Woakwine is an Aboriginal name, meaning elbow or bent arm and refers to the shape of the large watercourse near the Woakwine homestead.

Some links…


West Beach (Glenelg) SA

About Glenelg

Glenelg, where the infant British colony of Adelaide (and South Australia) began, is now a seaside suburb of Greater Adelaide and an elegant and delightful day tripper seaside resort with a beautiful Esplanade, a narrow strip of beach, a handsome jetty and an impressive number of mansions with views over St Vincent Gulf. Like much of South Australia it enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate with an average rainfall of 560 mm and a temperature range from 15°C (July) to 29°C (February)  – it typically experiences at least 18 days above 35°C in the summer months. It is a bustling city, bursting with cafes, restaurants and amusement parks, which is ideal for casual day tripper outings and ‘promenading’ (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Roadtrip to Glenelg via Port Germein

On our road-trip from Whyalla to Glenelg we stopped at the historic town of Port Germein (maplink).

We went here to check out the historic jetty which was officially opened in 1881 and has length of about 1500 metres. It was originally built for loading bags of grain onto sailing ships and destined for ports all over the world. It was once the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere. The jetty is now a great venue for tourists and locals alike.

Some links…

West Beach

This would be our base to explore the region around Adelaide; taking in Victor Harbour, Mt Lofty & Hahndorf.

We spent 7 wonderful days at the West Beach Big4 Caravan Park in Glenelg and on one evening we were treated to a glorious sunset as can be seen in the photos below…

Victor Harbour Day Trip

It was pretty random that our long time friends Keith and Birgit (from Melbourne) just happened to be in Glenelg at the same time as us; so we teamed up and took a day trip to the seaside town of Victor Harbour (maplink).

We did the walk out to Granite Island and then took the horse drawn tram back.This is a must do when in Victor Harbour.

Then lunch in the Hotel Victor. A great day was had with our special friends.

Some links…

Mt Lofty & Hahndorf

We took a trip, from our base in Glenelg, up into the Adelaide Hills to check out Mount Lofty and the historic German village of Hahndorf with our travelling buddies Bob & Michelle (maplink). It was a great day checking out the sights.

From the Mount Lofty Visitors Centre you can see all the way to the coast as well as the Adelaide CBD and Glenelg where we were staying. The view is pretty spectacular to say the least.

We then spent a few hours in the village of Hahndorf. Very pretty place with lots of history. This was a couple of days before Remembrance Day and the locals were planting out hundreds of hand crocheted poppies in the ANZAC memorial park and it was looking great; the lady said they had about another 500 to go – great work.

We dropped into the German Village Shop for a browse. They have the most beautifully hand carved Cuckoo clocks and Pinocchio dolls

Some links…


Whyalla SA

About Whyalla

Whyalla is a steel city. With a population of more than 20,000 (although it rises and falls according to the economic viability of the city), Whyalla is South Australia’s fourth largest centre after Adelaide, Mount Gambier and Gawler. Larger than Ceduna or Port Lincoln it is one of the three major centres on the Eyre Peninsula. The city’s primary appeal lies in the fishing available in the Spencer Gulf; the enduring interest in the steel industry which is now over 100 years old; and the interesting museums and lookouts in the local area (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Roadtrip to Whyalla via Tumby Bay & Arno Bay

We finally left Port Lincoln and headed to Whyalla taking a couple of stops along the way. We were in a Bailey convoy with our friends Neil & Sharon.

First was the wheat silos in Tumby Bay (maplink). It’s amazing how they scale the artwork to fit the silo (check the photos). The artwork was inspired by an Instagram image of two boys jumping for fun and relief off the Tumby Bay jetty. We then drove into town for a look around, saw nothing spectacular so we moved on.

Next stop was Arno Bay which was really just a toilet stop and when we returned to our caravans there was another Bailey parked up next to our two. Seeing 3 Bailey caravans parked up together is a real rarity so we all had a good laugh and introduced ourselves to the newcomers Bill & Cheryl. All three vans then continued in convoy to Whyalla where we stayed for 3 nights.

Some links…

Whyalla

We travelled in a Bailey convoy of 3 vans together arriving at the Whyalla Foreshore Caravan Park (maplink) and arranged for 3 sites side by side overlooking the water; which was pretty cool.

Spent 3 days here having a bit of a look around town and hanging out on the beach with our Bailey friends – Neil & Sharon and Bill & Cheryl.

Some links…


Port Lincoln SA

About Port Lincoln

Port Lincoln is the only city on the Eyre Peninsula. Located on Boston Bay (a bay which is more than three and a half times the size of Sydney Harbour and, thus, the largest natural harbour in Australia) and nestled on the easterly side of the Eyre Peninsula, Port Lincoln has grown because it has been the most important grain and fishing port on the peninsula. It is considered by many to be idyllic with an annual rainfall of 488 mm and a near-perfect Mediterranean climate of cool winters and warm, dry summers. Today it is a successful commercial centre which is economically driven by the grain-handling facilities (the foreshore is dominated by the 47-metre-high grain silos which can load barley and wheat at a rate of 1500 tonnes per hour); the canning and fish processing works; lambs, wool and beef, fertiliser production and, in recent times, the vast wealth which has been made as a result of tuna farming for the Japanese market.

Port Lincoln has Australia’s largest commercial fishing fleet (which makes it one of the wealthiest cities in Australia) and fish farming has grown so that there are now tuna farms, kingfish farms, mussel farms, abalone farms, oyster farms and even seahorse farms in the area. The primary appeal of the city lies in its exceptional seafood restaurants; its excellent opportunities for fishing; and the range of water-based activities which an attractive city on a protected bay can offer. In the 1830s it was considered as a possible state capital. Only the lack of a reliable water supply prevented it from becoming the capital of South Australia. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Some links…

Port Lincoln Caravan Park

We discovered a really nice caravan park called Port Lincoln Tourist Park right on the water and tiered up the hill so that the majority of sites had a view of the water. This would have to be one of the best laid out parks we had stayed in with magnificent views over Spencer Gulf (maplink).

We actually extended the stay for an extra day as we enjoyed the location, staying there with our Bailey friends Neil & Sharon. Also took in the Friday night market in Port Lincoln and checked out the Makybe Diva statue.

Fred’s Marina Tour

We found a very quaint tour called Fred’s Marina Tour where Captain Fred takes 10 people, in his little electric boat, around the fishing harbour in Port Lincoln. Fred talks (for 2 hours) about the different types of fishing fleets and aquaculture that has grown in the Port Lincoln area. It was very informative and finished with a short cruise through the water ways of the Port Lincoln rich and famous.

While we were in the harbour one of the Clean Seas Kingfish processing boats returned from the Kingfish pens with a load of kingfish to be exported. The boat looks amazing with all of it’s pipes and vacuums etc. They unloaded enough fish to fill a semi-trailer, and they do this nearly every day.

Some links…


Coffin Bay SA

About Coffin Bay

When the words “Coffin Bay” are uttered most people think of oysters. Coffin Bay and Coffin Bay National Park (30,380 ha) are a central part of an isolated, unspoilt South Australian holiday destination on the Eyre Peninsula. They are designed for people who want to spend time fishing, sailing, skin diving, water skiing, bushwalking, enjoying themselves on the beach and messing about on the bays and waterways in boats. So popular have the calm waters of the bay become that the population of the area during the Christmas school holiday time is likely to increase tenfold. The surrounding area is spectacularly beautiful and some of the out-of-the-way places including Gallipoli Beach, Farm Beach and the Coffin Bay Peninsula are genuinely fascinating (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Some links…

Coffin Bay Caravan Park

We decided to stop at Coffin Bay for a couple of days and what a great find this was. The Coffin Bay Caravan Park is in a perfect position for doing the coastal walk along the Oyster Walk as well as strolling over to the Beachcomber next door for happy hour – oysters and a few drinks.

The caravan park also has a permanent nightly population of kangaroos and there are plenty of mines to trod on each morning. Totally loved this stay along with Neil & Sharon Morrison.

We took a drive through the Coffin Bay National Park to check out the striking coastline. We also came across a couple of emus along the way.


Elliston SA

About Elliston

Elliston is a delightful seaside town located on Waterloo Bay on the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula. Set between rolling and pleasant sheep, mixed farming and cereal-growing country and some of the most dramatic coastline on the peninsula, the town is known for its fishing, swimming and surfing. There are excellent walking trails along the rugged sandstone cliffs (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Elliston’s caravan park

We only moved 127km down the road from Streaky Bay to Elliston (maplink) and booked into the Waterloo Bay CP. A nice little park where we stayed for 2 nights.

Elliston has a great coastal drive which takes in more of the amazing coastline with various art placements from local artists. Some are pretty cool; one even played host to a beehive.

Some links…


Streaky Bay SA

About Streaky Bay

Streaky Bay is a important, small service centre on the edge of the only safe, deep water harbour between Port Lincoln and King George Sound in Western Australia. While the town has a wonderfully casual, Mediterranean ambience its real attraction is that it is surrounded by some superb, unusual coastal scenery. The beautiful Smooth Pool and huge white sand dunes on the Westall Way Scenic Drive; the sea lions lazing in the sun on the rocks below Point Labatt; the rugged cliffs and pristine, white beaches all help to make Streaky Bay a magnet for holidaymakers (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Streaky Bay Caravan Park

We soon discovered the reason why so many people find Streaky Bay Foreshore Caravan Park is the perfect place to stay when visiting Streaky Bay, as it offers beautiful sea views and an ideal location right near the water.

Razorfish gathering

Streaky Bay is a beautiful place to stay and the caravan park is right on the beach. One of our neighbours “Fast Eddy” took me out to gather some Razorfish.

Razorfish (also known as razorshell, razor clam, common razor and pod razor) are a range of bivalve mollusc species common around the Eyre Peninsula coastline. They are an edible species of shellfish which gets their common name from their resemblance to an old fashioned cut throat razor.

You need to wear protective footwear and gloves as they will cut through your skin very easily (why they are called Razorfish). They are like flattened cones and are about 300mm in length with the pointy end embedded in the sand and the “mouth” just poking out of the seabed. You just pull them out, crack them open and remove the “heart” which looks like a scallop. Cook them just like a scallop too. Limit is 25 per person per day.

Here is a video I found on YouTube showing how Razorfish are cleaned…

Cape Bauer Loop Coastal Drive

The Cape Bauer Loop drive is a 39 km coastal scenic drive from Streaky Bay, on the western side of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. It is a good quality dirt road, very little traffic, lovely coastal scenery and easy access from Streaky Bay.

Cape Bauer is a limestone headland that marks the northernmost point of Corvisart Bay. The eastern side falls away to the sheltered waters of the Gibson Peninsula coastal wetlands, while beautiful beaches stretch southwards.

The drive is still classified as being part of the Great Australian Bight. Taking the drive out of Streaky Bay we visited several locations along the way including the blow hole and whistling rocks along with many scenic lookouts.

Point Labatt Seals

The second coastal drive from Streaky Bay was to Point Labatt to check out the seal colony and view more of the striking coastline. (maplink)

We found lazy seals, just kickin’ back doing nothing, and energetic seals who were frolicking in the rock pools. It was a great trip.

Found in no other country in the world, the Australian sea-lion is one of Australia’s most endangered marine mammals and rarest seals. Point Labatt is the only place on the mainland where Australian seal pups can be seen learning to swim, play and rest on the beach. It is also one of the few places in and around Australia where they are protected from land predators and which provides a safe environment for the sea-lion pups to develop.

Murphy’s Haystacks

As we left Streaky Bay (SA), travelling to Elliston, we stopped off at a pretty interesting natural phenomenon called “Murphy’s Haystacks”. They are ancient wind-worn pink granite boulders that formed 1500 million years ago. They stand like a crooked set of giant’s molars on a hilltop just 2km off the Flinders Highway. (maplink)

Folklore has them named after a Scottish agricultural expert who spotted the crop of remarkable rocks from the local mail coach. The Scotsman obviously had a fertile imagination. “That man must harrow,” he commented to his fellow travellers. “Look at all the hay he has saved.”

The owner of the land was Denis Murphy, and faster than you could shout “mine’s a Guinness!” the Murphy’s Haystacks nickname had stuck. Of course they’ve nothing to do with haymaking and are in fact great examples of weathered granite inselberg formations (German for “island-mountain”). They’re part of a larger mass called the Hiltaba Granite, named for the Hiltaba Station in the southwest Gawler Ranges, under which much of the mass lies. Ayers Rock is an inselberg.

The granite was originally hidden deep in the Earth’s crust, probably some 7-10 km below the surface, but over eons the overlying rocks have worn to be transported and deposited on the surrounding continental shelf and inland basins.

As we left Streaky Bay (SA), travelling to Elliston, we stopped off at a pretty interesting natural phenomenon called “Murphy’s Haystacks”. They are ancient wind-worn pink granite boulders that formed 1500 million years ago. They stand like a crooked set of giant’s molars on a hilltop just 2km off the Flinders Highway. (maplink)

Folklore has them named after a Scottish agricultural expert who spotted the crop of remarkable rocks from the local mail coach. The Scotsman obviously had a fertile imagination. “That man must harrow,” he commented to his fellow travellers. “Look at all the hay he has saved.”

The owner of the land was Denis Murphy, and faster than you could shout “mine’s a Guinness!” the Murphy’s Haystacks nickname had stuck. Of course they’ve nothing to do with haymaking and are in fact great examples of weathered granite inselberg formations (German for “island-mountain”). They’re part of a larger mass called the Hiltaba Granite, named for the Hiltaba Station in the southwest Gawler Ranges, under which much of the mass lies. Ayers Rock is an inselberg.

The granite was originally hidden deep in the Earth’s crust, probably some 7-10 km below the surface, but over eons the overlying rocks have worn to be transported and deposited on the surrounding continental shelf and inland basins.

Some links…


Crossing the Nullarbor

Our trip across the Nullarbor was taken over 3 days…

  • day 1 was 709 km from Kalgoorlie WA to Madura Pass WA (route map)
    • we pulled into a free camp at the end of day 1 but the only other people there were a bit strange so we decided to move on and eventually got to Madura Pass just on dark.
  • day 2 was 522 km from Madura Pass WA to Nundroo SA (route map)
  • day 3 262 km from Nundroo SA to Streaky Bay SA (route map)

What an amazing drive this is as it has many aspects to discover such as the magnificent views, the 90km straight, the kangaroos watching us pass-by at dusk on day 1 (a bit scary) and the fact there are trees on the Nullarbor.

Some links…


Kalgoorlie WA

About Kalgoorlie

There is nowhere else in Australia quite like Kalgoorlie. Unlike most gold-mining towns, which last for as little as a couple of years, it sits on the edge of the famous Golden Mile and has an economy which has been driven by gold since 1893. The main street, Hannan Street, is awash with glorious buildings all bearing testament to the wealth that has been generated. It is a city to be savoured.

A unique expression of the potency of gold fever and the wealth that can be generated by this hugely valuable metal. Modern Kalgoorlie is far removed from the town as described around the end of the 19th century: “When my party stepped from the train at Kalgoorlie, we saw before us a scattered array of wooden and galvanised iron houses … In the near distance we could see the towering poppet heads of the widely known Great Boulder mine, and the din created by the revolving hammers of the ever active stamping machinery assailed our ears as an indescribable uproar. But beyond the dust and smoke of these nature-combating engines of civilisation, the open desert, dotted with its stunted mulga and mallee growths, shimmered back into the horizon” (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Kalgoorlie Caravan Park

There are several caravan parks to choose from in the region. We settled on Kalgoorlie Goldfields Discovery Park in the suburb of Boulder (maplink) as it had a good write-up and was central to town.

Kalgoorlie Town Tour

We booked into the Gold Town Discovery Tour, which provided a great insight of Kalgoorlie’s history. We visited…

We booked into the Gold Town Discovery Tour, which provided a great insight of Kalgoorlie’s history. We visited…

Museum of the Goldfields

The Kalgoorlie Museum of the Goldfields was quite interesting place to visit. We learnt a lot about the goldfields and history of gold exploration in the area.

The basement vault contains replicas of historic gold nugget finds and explains the costly process of extracting the precious metal, for example…

  • The gold produced for a single gold wedding ring may require the removal of over 20 tonnes of rock!
  • Gold mining produces more waste rock per gram of metal than any other metal
  • The production process is known to release toxic metals into the environment and uses large amounts of energy

Ancient Rome display at Museum of the Goldfields

While visiting the Kalgoorlie Museum of the Goldfields we found a special exhibit about ancient Rome with working example of some of the inventions they created including…

  • The first land odometer
  • The first naval odometer
  • How they built their roads
  • The Groma – used by surveyors to lay out land boundaries
  • The abacus
  • Meridian Sundial
  • Water Wheel

Questa Casa Brothel Tour

Whilst in Kalgoorlie we took a tour of the famous Hay Street Brothel called Questa Casa which is reputed to be Australia’s oldest brothel run by an 80 year old madam by the name of Carmal.

The tour group sat around in a circle whilst Carmal’s daughter told us the history of prostitution in Kalgoorlie from the earliest days to the present. It was a fascinating tale to be told. If you are ever in Kalgoorlie this is actually a really good tour to do.

We then had a guided tour through the brothel seeing the working girls rooms and the “dominatrix” room with all it’s whips are very scary looking sex toys.

Some links…

What’s Up Downunder (YouTube) with Frankie J Holden

Kalgoorlie Super Pit

The Kalgoorlie Super Pit, run by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd (KCGM), is the largest open-cut gold mine & 3rd largest open-cut mine in the world. KCGM was created by Alan Bond in the 1989 when he consolidated a heap of mining leases to allow the open cut to begin.

We took the 2.5 hour Super Pit tour with Kalgoorlie Tours & Charters which was pretty good. We learnt a lot about the super pit and the massive scope of operations required to extract and process gold from the mine. The Super Pit…

  • is 3.9 km long and 1.6 km at its widest point
  • covers 35,000 hectares and is approx 600 metres deep
  • produces around 700,000 ounces of gold per year from around 15 million tonnes of extracted rock
  • the big dredges and trucks last about 7 years and are then replaced
  • they use 5 to 6 million litres of diesel fuel per month and store 700,000 litres onsite
  • KCGM expected gold processing to finish at the mine in 2021, however it now plans to extend ore processing until 2029

Some links…


Esperance WA

About Esperance

So much of the Western Australian coastline, particularly the coastline washed by the Great Southern Ocean, is idyllically beautiful. Turquoise waters, beautiful white sands, granite rocks edging the beaches. It is hard to imagine a more sustained area of beauty than the beaches which lie just to the west of Esperance – West Beach, Chapman’s Point, Blue Haven Beach, Salmon Beach, Fourth Beach and Twilight Beach.

The impossibly white sands, the gently rounded granite cliffs, and the ocean changing from aquamarine near the shore to a deep blue out near the islands of the Archipelago of the Recherche, is a combination of nature’s beauties which make Esperance one of the true wonders of the Australian coastline. The sand dunes, pushed to fantastic heights by the unforgiving ‘Esperance Doctor’, are 50-60 metres high. They are so white and so battered by the winds of the Southern Ocean that there are places where the sand has drifted across the road like snow. Below the road the white sands of the beaches and small bays are edged by smooth and dramatic granite rocks and glorious displays of wildflowers. This is one of those areas where the beauty is so overwhelming that it really does take your breath away (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Esperance Caravan Park

It was quite a long 530km drive from Denmark to Esperance (maplink) but the location we selected to stay at, Seaside Caravan Park made the distance worth it. The CP is located right on the beach with ocean views out of our van’s front windows. As in previous stops we will use this as our base for the next 3 days.

The Great Ocean Drive day trip

First trip was the Great Ocean Drive to the west of Esperance visiting…

  • The Pink Lake – which is no longer Pink due to the construction of a railway line blocking the flow of salt water plus environment changes in the area (more on Wikipedia)
  • 11 Mile Lagoon – vividly blue water and white sands; absolutely stunning
  • The Esperance windfarm has nine turbines positioned at Ten Mile Lagoon. In 2004, six more turbines were built at Nine Mile Beach. The two wind farms now generate enough to meet around 20% of Esperance’s power needs.
  • Observatory Point – were looking for whales but saw none but the view is still pretty good
  • Blue Haven Beach – We had lunch here with amazing azure blue water and stunning white sands as a backdrop along with it’s strange looking granite island.
  • Rotary Lookout – located at Dempster Head, it gives you a 360° view of the town of Esperance

The following day we took a stroll along the foreshore in front of our caravan park and eagle-eye Merrisa spotted dolphins about 5 metres from the shore.

Cape Le Grand National Park

Cape Le Grand NP is a short 46km drive from Esperance (maplink) and wow is it worth it! The landscape changes from massive granite outcrops to freshwater pools and unbelievably white sandy beaches with views over many islands. We spent the day here having a look around and visited (maplink)…

  • Hellfire Bay – a scenic, secluded bay nestled between sea-swept rocky headlands
  • Whistling Rock – as the name suggests; there is a large rock that whistles in the wind. Must have been blowing in the wrong direction when we were here as we heard nothing and it was windy enough to blow you hat off. Still a beautiful place with lots of granite, wildflowers and crystal clear water
  • Thistle Cove – Captain Matthew Flinders named Thistle Cove in 1802 after the ship’s master John Thistle
  • Frenchman Peak – just had a look at it as it’s a 3 hour return hike rated as a level 5.
  • Lucky Bay – the star of the trip. The water is the most azure blue and sand the whitest you could ever find, and of course it squeaks! This was voted the best beach in WA and it is easy to understand why. We drove down onto the beach and had lunch next to the car (out of the wind) just up from the Lucky Bean Cafe van. Kangaroos also came down onto the beach to say hi to everyone – pretty cool.

Some links…


Denmark WA

About Denmark

Denmark is a small, pleasant town in timber country to the north of the Great Southern Ocean. The town’s appeal and major attractions lie to the south where Greens Pool natural rock swimming pool in William Bay National Park is arguably the most beautiful beach in Australia. In recent years Denmark has become an increasingly popular holiday destination as its excellent fishing, tasteful and low-key development, and the rich diversity of its landscape (rugged coastline and beautiful beaches to the south, tall timber country in the hinterland) have made it an attractive alternative to Western Australia’s highly developed south-west coast holiday towns (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Denmark Caravan Park

We traveled 326km from Margaret River to Denmark on the WA south coast (maplink). We had many recommendations for Denmark from other travelers, so we booked into the Rivermouth Caravan Park just outside town, is right on the water with Pelican’s cruising past and just a naturally chilled out feeling you get from staying there. We used this as a central base for exploring the area

Around Denmark

Some of the places we visited were…

  • Ocean Beach – lovely place where the mouth of the Harding River reaches the ocean. Love to come back here when the water is warmer!
  • William Bay National Park where we visited…
    • Greens Pool – a striking beach which forms a natural swimming hole protected from the wild seas of the Southern Ocean. The colours are amazing.
    • Elephant Rocks – next door to Greens Pool and looks exactly like a herd of elephants, paddling in the shallow waters.
    • Waterfall Beach – not exactly what we expected with a tiny waterfall running straight onto the beach, but was still worth a look.

It was as we walked down the path to Greens Pool that Merrisa just missed stepping on a Dugite (venomous) Snake. The scream she emitted certainly gave both myself and the snake a terrible fright. Fortunately the snake slithered off between her feet (yep – it was that close). Check out my “photo-shopped” reenactment of the event below.

Day trip to Valley of the Giants

First stop was to check out the tree top walk in the Valley of the Giants in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park (maplink). Put this on your bucket list folks as it’s pretty amazing. There are two walks – one along the tree tops walk bridge and then another “the Ancient Empire” through the Tingle trees.

We stopped into Peaceful Bay for lunch on the way back to Denmark then took a stroll through a very pretty parkland in the Denmark township.

Day trip to Albany

We visited Albany to have a look at the Gap and Natural Bridge in Torndirrup National Park.

The Gap is a natural wonder enhanced by some very clever engineering with the building of a stainless steel viewing platform 40 metres directly above the surging seas. We were told by a couple of locals that several people have died there trying to sit on the railing above the surging seas and take selfies but have slipped and fell, with no means of getting back they have drowned. We were also told that when the ocean is really big the waves will actually come up through the floor of the platform.

The Natural Bridge is pretty amazing it shows the strength of nature as a group of rocks are suspended over a chasm creating a natural bridge with the ocean surging in below.

Later we went into Albany to find Dog Rock which we photographed when we were here in 1980. It’s now so special that many local business contain “Dog Rock” in their name.

We rounded out the day at the new Field of Light installation in the ANZAC Avenue of Honour – (see below) and then dinner at a top little Italian Restaurant by the name of Venice.

Some links…

YouTube video of the Gap installation…

Field of Light ANZAC Avenue of Honour

An immersive art installation by Bruce Munro, Field of Light: Avenue of Honour pays homage to the ANZAC’s with 16,000 shining spheres at the ANZAC Memorial on Mt Clarence in Albany. These globes come to light at dusk and symbolise the last sight of home for 41,000 troops who departed from Albany for World War 1. The colours are Yellow, White, Green and Red; symbolising the national flower flowers of Australia & New Zealand – wattle and the kowhai. This installation is in place until 25 June 2019.

Bruce Munro also designed the installation at Uluru where we had dinner in the dessert back in June; called the Field of Light (link to that post).

Some links…


Gracetown (Margaret River Region) WA

About Margaret River

Margaret River is both a town and a region. As a region it is a hugely successful wine growing district with over 80 vineyards, many of which have impressive cellar doors. At a town it is a typical wine growing region service centre with an emphasis on cafes, boutique shops and a sense of chic-ness. It has an impressive Farmers Market and an excess of upmarket restaurants. It lies close to superb beaches and impressive  limestone caves. The district’s magnet is its vineyards which produce some of the best wines in the country (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Some links…

Gracetown Caravan Park

We had planned to stay in Prevelly Caravan Park, where we stayed in 1980, but decided to abandon that idea at the last minute based on what we had heard about it (like not being updated since we were last there – from the guy on the phone at the Prevelly CP).

So at the last minute (like 2kms from town) we found Gracetown Caravan Park (maplink) which was absolutely fantastic. Nice bushy park with friendly people and just a good vibe – coffee van visited each morning. We even had a friendly kookaburra come to visit every afternoon trying to share our nibbles; little girl next door called him “Kooky” buy her brother called him “Luigi”.

We found this was a bit of a drive from Margaret River, but in WA you get used to this. Took a drive down to Prevelly Park and had a look at the mouth of the Margaret River. Truly beautiful spot to spend the day.

Busselton Jetty

Took a trip up to Busselton from Margaret River and discovered the Busselton Jetty, which is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere stretching 1.8 km into Geographe Bay.

We took the quaint little train out to the end where we took the tour of the underwater observatory. This is another one of those “must do” activities if you are ever in the region.

Some links…

North of Margaret River – Yallingup, Dunsborough, Eagle Bay & Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

Taking Caves Road and driving north along the coast from Margaret River you come across some beautiful places with amazing vistas over the ocean and coastline.

Starting in Yallingup we checked out the surf, watching a couple of guys doing tricks on their boogie boards in close to shore as well as a pod of dolphins surfing through the waves. I was fortunate enough to snap a photo of a dolphin jumping out of a wave – pretty cool.

Had lunch in a nice little cafe in Dunsborough before exploring Eagle Bay (millionaire’s holiday spot) and onto a look at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse.

Some links…

South of Margaret River – Tall Forests, Hamelin Bay, Augusta & Cape Leeuwin

Overcast and cool today as we headed down to Augusta through the tall Karri Forests in the National Park.

Stopped off at Hamelin Bay which was originally established as a port for exporting of Karri timber. There are 11 shipwrecks in the bay and on July 2nd 1900 a ship  was wrecked in a massive storm which ended the timber export from here due to the hazardous conditions.

The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is the tallest in WA and the 3rd in the country sitting 54 metres above sea level. This is the extreme south-western most point of the Australian continent, and the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Great Southern Ocean.

We also checked out the famous “fossilised water wheel” which was built to help pump water from a spring up to the lighthouse in the late 1800’s.

On the way back to Margaret River we stopped to view the fields of white Arum lily flowers, declared an environmental pest, which grow all over this end of WA. They are literally everywhere you look in the pastures and forests.

Overcast and cool today as we headed down to Augusta through the tall Karri Forests in the National Park.

Stopped off at Hamelin Bay which was originally established as a port for exporting of Karri timber. There are 11 shipwrecks in the bay and on July 2nd 1900 a ship  was wrecked in a massive storm which ended the timber export from here due to the hazardous conditions.

The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is the tallest in WA and the 3rd in the country sitting 54 metres above sea level. This is the extreme south-western most point of the Australian continent, and the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Great Southern Ocean.

We also checked out the famous “fossilised water wheel” which was built to help pump water from a spring up to the lighthouse in the late 1800’s.

On the way back to Margaret River we stopped to view the fields of white Arum lily flowers, declared an environmental pest, which grow all over this end of WA. They are literally everywhere you look in the pastures and forests.

Margaret River Wineries

You cannot visit the Margaret River region without visiting some wineries so we trundled out today to visit just a few…

We finished our little tour at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory (identical to Chocolaterie in Vic) followed by the Margaret River Dairy Company. It was a great day spent visiting the region.


Rockingham WA – our Perth base

About Rockingham

Rockingham is a glorious holiday and seaside resort town at the southernmost edge of the Greater Perth metropolitan area. In recent times it has become a popular tourist destination. It is noted for its beautiful safe beaches, the rich diversity of available water sports, the excellent nature cruises out to the islands and its environmental parks and lakes. The rapidly growing urban area stands on the edge of the sheltered waters of Cockburn Sound. The Shoalwater Islands Marine Park has some of the finest displays of sea-life and bird-life to be found in Western Australia (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Rockingham Caravan Park

We rocked up to Rockingham and stayed at the Cee and See Caravan Park which is right on the beach. Nice peaceful location 46kms from Perth (maplink) with mainly permanent sites; which are really quaint with carports, verandahs and gnome gardens – more than you’d be allowed to have at most parks.

We chose this location so that we could catch up with our friends John & Margaret Auld who live nearby. It also gave us the opportunity to catch up with an old Ocean Grove mate, Greg (Peck) Wynn at his home in South Yunderup.

Spent our time with Auldie at the riding for disabled facility he is volunteering at a new Riding for the Disabled nearby then having a look around the district visiting the naval shipyards where John worked and a look around Freo. Even got to watch the grand final at a sports bar in Rockingham but we won’t talk too much about that one.

Wally the Wombat also came to live with us while we were in Rockingham. Cheeky little wombat keeps turning up in strange places. Look out for him in future photos.

Australian Maritime Museum – Fremantle

Spent the day in Fremantle and visited the Maritime Museum. This is a must do if in Perth/Fremantle with a lot of history and they also have the America’s Cup winner Australia II there.

They were also running a virtual reality feature called The Antarctica Experience which we took part in and it was mind-blowing.

Spent the day in Fremantle and visited the Maritime Museum. This is a must do if in Perth/Fremantle with a lot of history and they also have the America’s Cup winner Australia II there.

They were also running a virtual reality feature called The Antarctica Experience which we took part in and it was mind-blowing.

Perth’s Elizabeth Quay & Kings Park

The only time spent in Perth city was to visit Elizabeth Quay and Kings Park which was enough for us as Neil had visited Perth several times when working for EzeScan.

Elizabeth Quay (maplink) is really nice but it’s a bit of a shame that the openness of the place is now being built out by high rise apartments and hotels right on the water’s edge. Took a jet-boat ride out on the Swan River with Wild West Charters which was a bit of a hoot. The guy who runs the show is a real character; he gave these 5 Indian tourists on the trip a recipe for preparing and cooking a “swan” – it was really funny to watch their faces, but not very PC.

Headed off to Kings Park (maplink) for lunch and to have a look at the WA wild flower displays. Absolutely love this place and would always come back to visit when in Perth.

The only time spent in Perth city was to visit Elizabeth Quay and Kings Park which was enough for us as Neil had visited Perth several times when working for EzeScan.

Elizabeth Quay (maplink) is really nice but it’s a bit of a shame that the openness of the place is now being built out by high rise apartments and hotels right on the water’s edge. Took a jet-boat ride out on the Swan River with Wild West Charters which was a bit of a hoot. The guy who runs the show is a real character; he gave these 5 Indian tourists on the trip a recipe for preparing and cooking a “swan” – it was really funny to watch their faces, but not very PC.

Headed off to Kings Park (maplink) for lunch and to have a look at the WA wild flower displays. Absolutely love this place and would always come back to visit when in Perth.


The Pinnacles WA – Nambung NP (near Cervantes)

We dropped in to check out the “Pinnacles” on our 476km road-trip from Geraldton to Rockingham (near Perth – roadmap). The Pinnacles are part of the Nambung National Park situated near the town of Cervantes.

The area contains thousands of weathered limestone pillars. Some of the tallest pinnacles reach heights of up to 3.5m above the yellow sand base. The different types of formations include ones which are much taller than they are wide and resemble columns suggesting the name of Pinnacles while others are only a meter or so in height and width resembling short tombstones. It is quite fascinating and well visited.

Some links…


Geraldton WA

About Geraldton

Geraldton is the largest town north of Perth and one of the most attractive coastal centres in Western Australia. It is both a seaside resort and an important port. Historically it attracted wheat farmers from the eastern hinterland for seaside holidays. It has a sublime Mediterranean climate (warm to hot summers and pleasantly cool winters) and has an average of 8 hours sunshine every day making it a popular winter seaside resort. It is an ideal starting point for an exploration of Western Australian wildflowers in the spring; is a popular haunt for surfers and anglers; has a number of outstanding attractions – including the impressive museum and the HMAS Sydney II Memorial and has the largest lobster fleet on the west coast. Recent upgrading has made the promenade along the foreshore of Town Beach and Champion Beach a particularly pleasant attraction.

Geraldton has one of the most beautiful foreshores (characterised by beautiful white sand beaches and an attractive harbour) of anywhere on the Western Australian coast (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Geraldton Caravan Park

We selected the Geraldton Belair Gardens Caravan Park as it was close to the city (maplink). It was a pretty nice park but very close to some rail shunting yards so all you hear is choof, choof, bang all night long. We’ll definitely be looking for another park on our next visit (nothing wrong with the park and management was great – just the noise)

Geraldton Lobster Co-operative visit

Geraldton is the home of the Brolos Lobster Fisherman’s Co-operative and we took a tour of their facilities. This was a great tour providing us an insight into the lobster industry in the area.

Some facts…

  • Brolos came into being in the 1950’s.
  • 98% of the lobsters caught and processed by the co-op are exported to China
  • The best quality lobsters return $100/kg to the fishermen and sell for up to $500/kg in China
  • The lobsters are chilled down to 5º Celsius before being packed in special wood-shavings for exporting live to China
  • Once in China they are released into holding pens and kept alive until they are reading for cooking in restaurants
  • The day of our visit a truck was loaded with 30 tonne of fresh lobster to be taken to a new processing facility in Welshpool WA, just 4km from Perth’s international airport (so 30,000 kgs x $100 = $3,000,000)
  • All profits are returned to the co-operative and distributed through to the fishermen members

Here are some excellent video’s (from YouTube)…

Geraldton Sydney II Memorial

There are several worthy tribute memorials along the West Australian coastline to the sinking of HMAS Sydney II by the German Auxiliary Cruiser Kormoran on 19 November 1941 with the loss of 645 Australians

We had already visited the memorials in Carnarvon and Denham but the Geraldton one (maplink) is the most spectacular by far. You can learn more about this important chapter in Australia’s history at the Wall of Remembrance which bears the names of the 645 men who lost their lives. The centre-piece is a dome on seven pillars representing the seven states and territories of Australia.

The dome is made up of 645 silver gulls that form a canopy. Fittingly, a bronze figure of a woman waiting for the return of her loved-one, stands at the memorial looking out to sea.

The fifth and final element was completed for the 70th anniversary in 2011, a simple recessed pool with circular terraced steps leading to the bottom where a map of shipwreck site is engraved. 644 Silver gulls are etched into the granite bottom, with a two metre high vertical silver gull (representing the 645th person) emerging from the pool.

We visited the memorial during daylight hours and returned to check it out at night to see how it looked under lights. On the way back to our caravan checked out St Francis Xavier Cathedral which was all lit up too. Really glad we did the night trip too.

Some links…

Day trip to check out the Wreath Flowers (Mullewa)

If you are around Geraldton in September and into wildflowers you must take a trip out to a small town called Mullewa to view a natural phenomenon, which only occurs in one location at Pindar (roadmap), called the Wreath Flowers.

This event only happens over a short period of time and these Wreath Flowers apparently only occur after the road verge as been graded (or so we were told). We were fortunate enough to be able to make the short (in WA terms) 280 km return trip spending about 15 minutes on location; but I must say it was worth the effort. The route takes you through so may spectacular displays of WA wildflowers it is absolutely stunning.

Stopped off at the Mullewa Pub for lunch which was a bit of a step back in time (like 1970’s).

If you are around Geraldton (WA) in September and into wildflowers you must take a trip out to a small town called Mullewa to view a natural phenomenon, which only occurs in one location at Pindar (roadmap), called the Wreath Flowers.

This event only happens over a short period of time and these Wreath Flowers apparently only occur after the road verge as been graded (or so we were told). We were fortunate enough to be able to make the short (in WA terms) 280 km return trip spending about 15 minutes on location; but I must say it was worth the effort. The route takes you through so may spectacular displays of WA wildflowers it is absolutely stunning.

Stopped off at the Mullewa Pub for lunch which was a bit of a step back in time (like 1970’s).


Hutt Lagoon Pink Lake (Port Gregory) WA

About Port Gregory

Port Gregory (now known as Gregory) is a tiny settlement where convict history, fishing, wheat lands and ‘getting away from it all’ holidaying all mingle. It is an unusual setting. Wheat fields grow next to huge white sand dunes, an historic convict settlement stands on the shores of a pink lake, and a reef runs parallel to the coast forming a natural breakwater for a small harbour. This tiny village is a sleepy fishing port which is made very special by beautiful white sand dunes which are 10–15 metres high, a remarkable pink lake and some of the most interesting, and well preserved, convict ruins anywhere in Western Australia (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

On our road-trip from Kalbarri to Geraldton (roadmap) we stopped off to view the natural wonder of Hutt Lagoon Pink Lake near Port Gregory.

The lake boasts a pink hue created by presence of a “carotenoid-producing algae” called Dunaliella salina, a source of B-carotene, a food-colouring agent and source of vitamin A. It is mined here and sold all over the world.


Kalbarri WA

About Kalbarri

Kalbarri is a popular holiday and retirement town surrounded by one of the most beautiful regions of wildflowers in Australia. Although the coastline around Kalbarri was explored by Europeans in the early seventeenth century the actual town of Kalbarri did not come into existence until 1951 and since then it has grown to become a popular tourist destination with fishing, swimming, bushwalking, organised cruises and a range of activities designed for holidaymakers including the impressive Rainbow Jungle, Australian Parrot Breeding Centre and walks in the beautiful and dramatic Kalbarri National Park (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Kalbarri Caravan Park

Selecting a place to stay was a bit difficult as we had stayed in Kalbarri in 1979 and an lot of changes had occurred in the last 39 year (LOL). We chose Kalbarri Anchorage Caravan Park for the standard reason – it’s close to town (maplink). It turned out to be a great choice.

Kalbarri Surf

After we arrived in Kalbarri we soon discovered the wind was still howling but it was practically offshore at Jakes Point so took some great surf snaps.

Kalbarri NP – Murchison River Gorges

Natures Window & Z Bend

We last visited Kalbarri in December 1979 and spent about a week here. The temperature hovered around 45 degrees celsius every day so the trip into the Murchison River Gorges section of the Kalbarri National Park was undertaken at about 6:00am. It was a dirt track back then and we had to drive around the kangaroos as they lazed away on the track.

Move forward 39 years and all of the tracks are now fully bitumised but the vistas at each location are just as incredible. One thing we did notice was the flys are just as horrific as they were back then; but this time we came prepared with our fly nets over our heads (not a good look but very effective).

It is a 50km trip (maplink) into the area from Kalbarri township with heaps of wildflowers now on display to make the trip even more enjoyable. The first area to visit was Natures Window and Z Bend.

Natures Window is probably the most visited and photographed piece of rock in Australia, coming in a close 2nd & 3rd to Uluru and Kings Canyon.

Some links…

Hawks Head & Ross Graham Lookouts

After visiting Natures Window and Z Bend we drove another 50km to view Hawks Head and Ross Graham Lookout (roadmap). The beautiful wildflowers certainly made what would have been a boring road-trip quite beautiful.

We attempted to eat our picnic lunch at Hawks Head but the flies were so intense we ended up in the car.

Named after the first school teacher in Kalbarri (not the bloke who I worked with in the old Board of Works), Ross Graham was a devoted conservationist who aided in the exploration of the Murchison River. We took the walk down to the Murchison River from Ross Graham Lookout which gave a better perspective of the enormousness of these gorges; it was wonderful.

On our way back into town we stopped off at Meanarra Hill which provides a view over the coast and Kalbarri township. We were amazed at the eating shelter and layout of this beautiful spot; created by funding from the “Royalties for Regions” from the WA mining boom.

Some links…

Kalbarri NP – Coastal Cliff Gorges

The coastal cliff gorges of Kalbarri National Park are totally different to the inland ones along the Murchison River. We rated these as better than the inland gorges; cannot exactly say why except for the wow factor they provided. We travelled south from the Kalbarri township with each place accessible via bitumen road (roadmap).

We visited…

  • Shellhouse and Grandstand – originally seen by sailors out at sea and thought to be a house on the cliffs
  • Island Rock – you almost could think that one of Victoria’s 12 Apostles has decided to move to a warmer climate in WA.
    We had our picnic lunch in one of the wonderful shelters above the cliffs overlooking the ocean.
  • Natural Bridge – huge waves crashing up against the coast with this rock formation providing ample photo opportunities
  • Eagle Gorge – we saw a large pod of dolphins herding a school of bait-fish from the cliff tops. This spectacle was pretty amazing seeing how they worked as a team to feast upon their prey.
  • Pot Alley – very dramatic looking rock formations as you walk down a very old creek-bed to the beach – probably the best spot we visited.

All of the above are easily accessed with fantastic board walks and shelters along the way made possible by the royalties from the WA mining boom.

Some links…


Denham WA

About Denham

Denham is both the western most town in Australia (at the 113°32″ East meridian of longitude) and the gateway to Monkey Mia with its famous dolphins. The town survives on the influx of tourists who come to the area to see the dolphins. It offers alternative accommodation to Monkey Mia, has restaurants and an airport. It is also the place where most people leave who are heading to Dirk Hartog Island. Denham is primarily a stopover for people heading to other places around Shark Bay. It has an almost Mediterranean feel about it with a small and beautiful beach and a jetty from which fishing and boating are popular activities (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Denham Caravan Park

After leaving Carnarvon we travelled 325km down the coast to a beautiful little town called Denham (maplink) which we used as a base to explore the area, including Monkey Mia and Francois Peron National Park.

We stayed in the Denham Seaside Caravan Park and had a beautiful site overlooking Shark Bay. Only problem was the wind had followed us and was extremely gusty with the Bureau of Meteorology issuing wind warnings for 2 of the 4 nights we were there.

Some links…

Denham Coastline

The Shark Bay area is quite spectacular with turquoise waters and pristine white beaches. If you are ever in this part of WA put Denham on your list of places to visit.

We tripped to several places along the coast…

Shell Beach

This beautiful snow-white beach is made up of millions of tiny shells up to 10 metres deep and stretching for over 70 kilometres. There is no sand, only shells! Shell Beach is one of only a handful of places on earth where shells replace beach sand in such a dramatic and picturesque way. A walk on Shell Beach is like no other. Incredibly, the beach is made up of shells from the Shark Bay cockle, making it truly unique.

Merrisa left a cute message in the beach (that’s what you do) and I took a stroll in the crystal clear water where a shovell nose shark swam right past me; awesome!

Goulett Bluff

A beautiful view of the coastline which really shows off the beauty of the area (web link)

Eagle Bluff

This location has a boardwalk along the cliff face where we saw sting rays, manta rays and a couple of sharks below us in the crystal clear water. The only downside was the wind; it nearly blew us back to Denham it was so strong. (web link)

Shark Bay Aquarium

We finished the road-trip up at the Shark Bay Aquarium for lunch.

The Shark Bay area is quite spectacular with turquoise waters and pristine white beaches. If you are ever in this part of WA put Denham on your list of places to visit.

We tripped to several places along the coast…

Shell Beach

This beautiful snow-white beach is made up of millions of tiny shells up to 10 metres deep and stretching for over 70 kilometres. There is no sand, only shells! Shell Beach is one of only a handful of places on earth where shells replace beach sand in such a dramatic and picturesque way. A walk on Shell Beach is like no other. Incredibly, the beach is made up of shells from the Shark Bay cockle, making it truly unique.

Merrisa left a cute message in the beach (that’s what you do) and I took a stroll in the crystal clear water where a shovell nose shark swam right past me; awesome!

Goulett Bluff

A beautiful view of the coastline which really shows off the beauty of the area (web link)

Eagle Bluff

This location has a boardwalk along the cliff face where we saw sting rays, manta rays and a couple of sharks below us in the crystal clear water. The only downside was the wind; it nearly blew us back to Denham it was so strong. (web link)

Shark Bay Aquarium

We finished the road-trip up at the Shark Bay Aquarium for lunch.

Monkey Mia

We got up early and travelled the 27km from Denham to Monkey Mia (maplink) to do the dolphin experience. This pretty cool as you turn-up at 7:45am, have a briefing with the Monkey Mia rangers about the history of the place and the feeding of the dolphins.

There is no timetable as you wait for the dolphins turn-up. Sometimes it may not be until mid-day but in our case it was about 8:30am. The 1st dolphin was called “Surprise” and she had some awful scaring on her back, being attacked by what they think is a Tiger Shark last year. She was very fortunate as she was just millimeters from not surviving; the cut being right next to her blowhole.

Here is a promotional YouTube video on the Monkey Mia dolphins…

Some links…

Francois Peron National Park

If you own a 4WD you must travel up the Peron Peninsula in the Francois Peron National Park. We took two separate trips over 2 days. You begin by letting your tyres down to 15 PSI then proceed up the red sand tracks which are a single car wide.

The 1st day was a trip was to Skip Jack Point and Cape Peron. The tracks were pretty hairy in parts with deep, soft sand trying very hard to bog the vehicle but we struggled through the 130km of sand tracks to the top and back (it was a hoot!). At Skip Jack Point we witnessed a feeding frenzy of birds and a single dolphin gouging themselves on bait-fish.

The 2nd day was a short trip to Big Lagoon for lunch. The area is beautiful with amazing facilities provided by the “Royalties for Regions” from the WA mining boom. We rounded out the day with a dip in the Peron Heritage Precinct “hot tub”.

Driving along one of the Francois Peron National Park Tracks

Hamelin Pool Stromatolites

On the road-trip from Denham to Kalbarri (maplink) we dropped into view the Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool.

Hamelin Pool is home to the most diverse and abundant examples of Stromatolites in the world. Also referred to as ‘living fossils’, stromatolites are living representatives of life over 3500 million years ago when there was no other complex life on Earth. Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve is one of only two places in the world with living marine stromatolites.

A 200m boardwalk at Hamelin Pool provides excellent views of the stromatolites, microbialites and microbial mats. The microbial mats and stromatolites of Hamelin Pool are among the most diverse in the world and show what marine ecosystems would have looked like three billion years ago. Life in Hamelin Pool is therefore among the reasons for Shark Bay’s World Heritage status.

For a long time scientists knew that microbial mats influenced the evolution of life on Earth, but they have learnt much more in recent years. They have found that microbial mats are diverse and complex ecosystems where different species work together in communities that depend on each other.

On the road-trip from Denham to Kalbarri (maplink) we dropped into view the Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool.

Hamelin Pool is home to the most diverse and abundant examples of Stromatolites in the world. Also referred to as ‘living fossils’, stromatolites are living representatives of life over 3500 million years ago when there was no other complex life on Earth. Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve is one of only two places in the world with living marine stromatolites.

A 200m boardwalk at Hamelin Pool provides excellent views of the stromatolites, microbialites and microbial mats. The microbial mats and stromatolites of Hamelin Pool are among the most diverse in the world and show what marine ecosystems would have looked like three billion years ago. Life in Hamelin Pool is therefore among the reasons for Shark Bay’s World Heritage status.

For a long time scientists knew that microbial mats influenced the evolution of life on Earth, but they have learnt much more in recent years. They have found that microbial mats are diverse and complex ecosystems where different species work together in communities that depend on each other.


Carnarvon WA

About Carnarvon

Carnarvon is a prosperous service town and holiday destination surrounded by banana plantations. It is located between Shark Bay and the Ningaloo Reef. Since the 1930s it has become famed for its produce with the rich flats of the Gascoyne River being used to grow bananas, avocados, coconuts, dates, macadamia nuts, mangoes, pawpaws, pecans, tomatoes, pineapples, melons and various varieties of beans due to the aquifers on the Gascoyne River. Today it supplies 70% of Western Australia’s winter vegetable requirements. Carnarvon achieved fame when, on 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped out of Apollo 11 onto the surface of the moon. His famous words “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind” were relayed via the tracking station at Carnarvon. Today the town has a range of tourist activities and is an important service centre for the surrounding properties (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Carnarvon Caravan Park

We selected the Capricorn Holiday Park for no reason at all, mainly because it had good reviews, and it wasn’t too bad at all. Friendly staff and really clean amenities (maplink).

Quobba Blow Holes

We traveled out to have a look at the “Quobba Blow Holes” which are situated on a really rugged piece of coastline 75km north of Carnarvon. The seas were pretty big and the wind was howling so it was a bit difficult to get too close but they were really impressive even from where we were standing. The blowholes squirt seawater about 20 metres into the air from sea caves below the rocks.

We also drove up a dirt track to the Quobba lighthouse to gain a bigger view of the coastline and spotted a baby Peregrine Falcon nesting there (pretty cool). From here we drove up to the original HMAS Sydney memorial cairn (see below)

HMAS Sydney II Memorials

The most grievous loss suffered by the Royal Australian Navy occurred on 19 November 1941, when the cruiser HMAS Sydney was lost in action with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran off the Western Australian coast. None of the Sydney‘s complement of 645 men survived. The Kormoran was also sunk in the action.

On 17 March 2008 the Australian Government announced that the wreckage of both HMAS Sydney and the German raider Kormoran had been found, approximately 112 nautical miles off Steep Point, Western Australia. Kormoran is lying at a depth of 2,560 metres; Sydney, approximately 12 nautical miles away, is at 2,470 metres.

There are several memorials to the disaster along the Coral Coast. We visited 2 in Carnarvon; one in the town and another on the coast near to the location of the Carnarvon Blowholes.

Some links:

Mock-up video of the battle

Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum

The Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum is actually the former NASA base which was built for the NASA manned space program of the 1960’s – 1970’s and the role of OTC Carnarvon satellite earth station (maplink).

Today it is a museum about the moon landing and space exploration. Totally run by volunteers; it is a great place to visit when you are in Carnarvon.

We took a trip in the Apollo Command module (bit corny but fun) and landed the space shuttle in a simulator (after crashing about 5 times as a novice LOL)


Coral Bay WA

About Coral Bay

Coral Bay is a small holiday resort town which is really nothing more than a couple of caravan parks, holiday homes for fishermen, a hotel, two cafes and a few basic facilities. The town’s great appeal lies in its unpretentiousness, its simplicity and, most of all, its access to the 260 km Ningaloo Reef which lies close to the shore and forms a kind of natural lagoon which is ideal for people wishing to snorkel, scuba dive, canoe or explore the reef. Lying just north of the Tropic of Capricorn (i.e. it is on the same latitude as Rockhampton) the waters in Coral Bay are warm for most of the year and the beaches are white, hard and beautifully clean. Today the town is still quiet and peaceful. A retreat for grey nomads, backpackers, sunlovers and anglers. It is hard to imagine that it will still be like this in a decade’s time (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Coral Bay Caravan Park

There’s only a couple of choices for caravan parks and we selected the Ningaloo Coral Bay CP which wasn’t a bad choice.

Coral Bay is an interesting town (maplink). First thing you must know is to bring your own fresh water as there is no “town water” which is drinkable. We had 240 litres of water in the caravan so that was a good start but we still had to ration it. The toilet blocks in the caravan parks all use bore water which was practically salt water.

The town’s power supply is created by several wind powered generators.

We stayed for 4 nights and loved it. The only downside was the wind which made it difficult to snorkel as it was really windy. We’ll definitely return again.

Coral Bay Snorkeling

Coral Bay (maplink) is a snorkeling wonderland. We just walked across the road from the Bayview Caravan Park and strolled into the water from the beach and drift along over beautiful corals teaming with fish.

The corals of Ningaloo Reef are apparently not as colourful as those on the great barrier reef and this is due to natural causes (non environmental like bleaching).

Coral Bay (maplink) is a snorkeling wonderland. We just walked across the road from the Bayview Caravan Park and strolled into the water from the beach and drift along over beautiful corals teaming with fish.

The corals of Ningaloo Reef are apparently not as colourful as those on the great barrier reef and this is due to natural causes (non environmental like bleaching).

Coral Bay Fish Feeding

3 times a week the tour companies combine to feed the fish on the main beach of Coral Bay (Bills Bay – check the satellite map).

The public just stand in the water whilst about 50 or more Spangled Emperor fish swim around your ankles whilst they are fed pellets by the tour guides. It’s pretty amazing to see these fish showing no fear of the humans. I suppose everyone is going to say “why not fish there” – well you cannot as it’s a sanctuary.

Feeding The Spangled Emperor fish

Coral Bay Dune Buggies

We took a trip with Off Road Rush Tours doing a 2 hour sunset tour in the dune buggies. It was a hoot blast through well defined tracks in the sand dunes to the south of Coral Bay. The tracks were really bumpy and we were continually knocked about but laughed through the whole trip. It was a really fun thing to do ending up with a sunset upon the cliff face over the ocean.

Merrisa took over the driving half way through and had a ball too.

We took a trip with Off Road Rush Tours doing a 2 hour sunset tour in the dune buggies. It was a hoot blast through well defined tracks in the sand dunes to the south of Coral Bay. The tracks were really bumpy and we were continually knocked about but laughed through the whole trip. It was a really fun thing to do ending up with a sunset upon the cliff face over the ocean.

Merrisa took over the driving half way through and had a ball too.


Whale Sharks & Hump Back Whales on Ningaloo Reef

We booked in with an excellent tour company called Ningaloo Discovery to do a Whale Shark snorkel on the Ningaloo Reef. These guys are awesome and so helpful in organising everyone to get the best experience. They take a maximum of 20 people on this trip.

We started the journey at Tantabiddi Boat Ramp and motored out in the beautiful catamaran through the reef barrier (to outside) and immediately came across some hump back whales. Everyone geared up and were split into 3 groups and the 1st group entered the water and the whales took off (bummer). We saw some more whales with calves but you are not allowed to dive with them so we moved onto find some whale sharks.

They use a spotter plane to locate the whale sharks. These are solitary animals and travel along very slowly so it wasn’t long before one was spotted. We were then split into 2 groups and entered the water in front of the path the whale shark was heading. The team operate as one and it was not long before our group was directed into position. The whale shark just glides past and then you can swim along with it. This was so surreal and and an experience which will stay with us forever. We swam with 3 different whale sharks during the trip.

Back inside the reef in what is called the “lagoon” where we saw dugongs, sting rays, turtles and dolphins and then went for a snorkel over some “bommies” of coral which were teaming with fish of all colours and sizes. The coral is not as colorful as the Great Barrier Reef and this is due to it’s type and is natural.

This tour was brilliant. The crew aboard the Ningaloo Discovery were all so friendly and helpful. We were served morning and afternoon tea, a fantastic lunch and finished up with a glass of champers on the way back to harbour.

My video of our whale shark swim

Some links…


Exmouth WA

About Exmouth

The Exmouth area was known to Europeans, specifically the Dutch, as early as the 17th century but it was not until World War II that the huge airport was built and it was as recently as 1963 that a naval town serving the US Naval Communication Station, Harold E. Holt, and the Learmonth RAAF Base, was established. The US Navy left in the early 1990s and while part of the old naval base is still used by the Australian Navy today the town is driven primarily by tourism with deep sea fishing, the beautiful Ningaloo Reef and the complex coastal wildlife (whale sharks are prevalent in the area) attracting visitors to this strikingly beautiful region. It is a place where a visitor could easily spend a week. Certainly the remarkable Cape Range National Park deserves days of exploration (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Exmouth Caravan Park

We hit Exmouth today and booked into the RAC Big 4 Caravan Park located to the southern end of town (maplink). A very neat and tidy park with fairly new facilities and amenities. If we return we may try out Yardie Homestead, which is more of a “bush park” (maplink)

Catching up with travel buddies and having a look around the place

It was a great piece of timing as we managed to catch up with a couple of travel buddies, Bob & Michelle for dinner that night. Merrisa even bumped into Keith Urban & I bumped into Willie Nelson out the front of the pub (and got photos too).

The next day was spent having a look around what is known as “North West Cape”. It’s got a lot of history.

One fascinating thing is the “Harold E Holt Communications Station VLF towers” built by the Americans in the 1960’s so they could transmit via radio to submerged submarines. Have a look at the image from Google maps.

We then had a coffee and cake at a quaint little beach shack called Bundegi Shack situated on the nearby beach.

We then checked out the views from Vlaming Head Lighthouse and watched as kite surfers absolutely flew out across the waves with the gusty winds we were experiencing and finished up at the wreck of the SS Mildura, (a cattle steamer, wrecked in 1907 during a cyclone) which was the reason the lighthouse was eventually constructed (after it bumped into the coastline.

Tour of Yardie Creek

Booked into a tour along Yardie Creek, which is in the Cape Range National Park. This was a delightful trip along the creek viewing the gorges and native wildlife.

Have a look at the photos, where we spotted black-footed rock wallabies, ospreys in their nest and were thoroughly entertained by Ash, the boat captain. If you are ever in Exmouth then we recommend you do this trip.

Some links…

Ningaloo Beaches

Exmouth is located on a peninsula called North West Cape (maplink) and there was so much we missed here that we will definitely return; such as Cape Range National Park.

We took a day trip along the west side of the Cape and checked out the beaches and some great camp grounds (for the next trip) and also took a look at Ningaloo Lighthouse Holiday Park which is the northern end of the Cape and Yardie Homestead.

Exmouth is located on a peninsula called North West Cape (maplink) and there was so much we missed here that we will definitely return; such as Cape Range National Park.

We took a day trip along the west side of the Cape and checked out the beaches and some great camp grounds (for the next trip) and also took a look at Ningaloo Lighthouse Holiday Park which is the northern end of the Cape and Yardie Homestead.


Onslow WA

About Onslow

Onslow is a sleepy little town where people go to fish and to have quiet holidays by the sea. Historically it was created as a mixture of pearling, farming and gold mining, but today, in part because it lies on the coast 82 km from the main North West Coastal Road, it is a true Cinderella – a gorgeous coastal retreat where only those who know of its charms tend to divert from the long journey from Perth to Broome. It has become known as ‘Cyclone City’ as, since its establishment in 1883, it has experienced major cyclones in 1909, 1918, 1926, 1934, 1953, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1975, 1995 and 1999. The 1963 cyclone had winds which were measured at 232 km/h. In fact the cyclones have occurred with such regularity that they have had profound effects on the town – it was forced to relocate after the 1926 cyclone and the frequency of cyclones in the 1960s forced the reconstruction of the local jetty to be abandoned (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Some more links…

Road trip – Tom Price to Onslow

Today we took the 418km road-trip to Onslow (maplink). Stopped along the way for lunch and captured some of the wildflowers which are starting to appear in WA.

Ended up at the Council run Ocean View caravan park in Onslow (maplink) with a waterside site with fantastic views of the water.

The locals actually call it Onnn Sloooww.

Onslow Salt Works and LNG Gas Plant

Salt Works

The weather conditions in the Onslow area make it a perfect location to carry out what is known as Solar Salt Mining which involves flooding special made ponds with salt water and then allowing the water to slowly gravitate from one pond to another until it dehydrates to raw salt. They then farm it with special machines, process it and ship it offshore to their customers.

The operation is run by Shark Bay Salt Pty Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsui & Co. Ltd, which is one of the world’s most diversified trading, investment and services enterprises. It owns and operates two salt-fields in Western Australia — Shark Bay Resources and Onslow Salt.

Wheatstone Liquefied Natural Gas Plant

Onslow was becoming a bit of a dying town until the development of a major Liquefied Natural Gas Plant was established by a company called Wheatstone (owned by Chevron) just west of the town. It is now a growing community with it’s own airport, built to facilitate the “fly-in fly-out” of workers.

The Wheatstone Project’s offshore processing platform is located in 70 metres of water, about 225km from the coast. The offshore facilities gather and partially process gas and associated condensate from the Wheatstone, Iago, Julimar and Brunello gas fields, and deliver it onshore via trunkline for further processing.

Once onshore at Ashburton North, the majority of Wheatstone’s gas is processed by the two LNG trains, where impurities and inert gases are removed and the natural gas is chilled to minus 130 degrees Celsius, at which point it flashes over to a liquid 600 times the density of the natural gas. It is further cooled to minus 162 degrees Celsius and sent to insulated storage tanks to await export overseas via LNG tankers. Excess gas has to be continually “burnt off” to keep the plant working. The flame can be seen for kilometers.

Click here to find out more about the Wheatstone project.

Great sunsets

Brendan and I went down to “sunset point” in Onslow to take some photos of the sunset using the Salt Works jetty as a feature. We even had a dog come down and voice his protest at the sacking of Malcolm Turnbull.

Brendan and I went down to “sunset point” in Onslow to take some photos of the sunset using the Salt Works jetty as a feature. We even had a dog come down and voice his protest at the sacking of Malcolm Turnbull.

The Old Onslow Township

We were told at the visitors centre that the “Old Onslow Township” was worth a visit. The original town was originally established in 1885 during the gold rush, the old town later acted as a port town for pearling luggers following the discovery of pearls nearby. By 1925 the Ashburton River mouth had silted up causing access problems for the ships. As a result the town was moved to where it is located today.

So we trundled down the dirt road expecting to see a ghost town and all we found were some signs with “this was where the general store was” and “this was the site of the livery stables” with no buildings in sight.

We then found the ruins of what was the police station, jail, post office and hospital. It was pretty cool but we were a bit disappointed.

Onslow’s Staircase to the Moon

We did the “staircase to the moon” in Broome (view the post) and were left wondering what all of the hype was about. We also had the same occurrence scheduled to happen whilst we were in Onslow.

The big difference was we did not have to battle the crowds. We just set-up on the seawall behind our caravan site and enjoyed a quiet beer with the neighbours whilst this (so called) phenomenon occurred.

A look around Onslow

Onslow was a really nice spot to visit. The Ocean View Caravan park is right of the water and close to town – totally recommend it.

There is a wonderful ANZAC Memorial constructed on the foreshore (next to the caravan park) which was built to capture the sunrise in a certain spot on ANZAC Day. It is at the beginning of a coastal boardwalk which we strolled along (about 2.5km return).

Brendan and I went for a fish in Beadon Creek with very little success but as they say “it’s all about the serenity” and bonding with your son.

We visited the ANZAC Memorial for sunrise on the morning Brendan was schedule to fly home then took him out to the Onslow Airport for a teary farewell (off to cold old Melbourne). It was fantastic having Brendan with us for 9 days.

Sunrise ANZAC Memorial
Sunrise at ANZAC Memorial

Tom Price & Karijini NP WA

About Tom Price

Tom Price is the most attractive purpose-built town in the Inland Pilbara with tree-lined streets, modern facilities, an impressive Visitor Centre and a relaxed country-town atmosphere. Once owned by the Rio Tinto mining company it is now owned and run by the Shire of Ashburton. Located below the impressive Mount Nameless, Tom Price has been described as the ‘Top Town in Western Australia’ because it is the highest town in Western Australia. It is nestled in the Hamersley Range, a flat-topped mass of Precambrian sediment which was deposited on the sea bed more than 500 million years ago. It is recognised as one of the oldest weathered surfaces on earth.

The combination of millions of years of wind, rain and ice (during the Permian Ice Age) has eroded the whole area into a series of spectacular gorges. The end result is some of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes in Australia. The gorges are notable for their distinctive horizontal bedding where layers of red, black and brown iron form bands of colour with conglomerates and sandstone. The area has been denuded by the harshness of the summers with ghost gums, red river gums and wildflowers (including the Sturt Desert Pea) giving the landscape a special beauty (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Road Trip to Tom Price

Tom Price, situated in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, is a mining town. The town is located inland, at the edge of the Hamersley Range. Tom Price is the highest town above sea level (747 metres (2,451 ft)) in Western Australia, and is consequently dubbed “Top Town in WA”.

It was a 417 km trip from Port Hedland to Tom Price (maplink).

On the way we encountered some massive mining equipment which took up the entire road, it was massive. We were also warned about being caught at rail crossings waiting for 250 carriage ore trains to pass but we were lucky and missed them all.

Tom Price Caravan Park

We decided to use this location as a base to travel into Karijini National Park and checked into the Tom Price Tourist Park just outside of town (maplink).

Karijini Parks – Hamersley Gorge

Hamersley Gorge was our 1st trip into Karijini National Park from Tom Price campground (maplink).

It involved 50km of dirt road driving; the first 47km wasn’t too bad as the road is used by road-trains and is pretty well maintained and the last 3kms was horrific with sharp rocks and pot holes and a max speed of about 20km/hour. We got our 1st flat of our trip (12,000km to date) and it was a doozie with the tyre being totally destroyed (check out the photos).

The gorge is stunning and only a very short walk from the car park. Brendan and I went swimming while Merrisa watched from the shore. The water was very “refreshing” and we really could not stay in for very long, but it was a box ticked off.

PS – got the tyre replaced in Tom Price and was really lucky to score a match to our tyre set; otherwise the guy said it would be 5-10 days to wait for one.

View more on Hamersley Gorge in TripAdvisor.

Karijini Parks – Dales Gorge

We packed our lunch and headed off on a bit of a road trip to Dales Gorge & Recreation Area (218km return from Tom Price CP – maplink). This is one of the most popular of the gorges within Karijini NP and has 3 separate pools/falls to view; Circular Pool, Fortescue Falls & Fern Pool.

There is also a campground there for those who want to spend more time exploring the area.

Tom Price Mine Tour

Booked into the tour of Rio Tinto’s Tom Price Iron Ore Mine (maplink) and headed off with Lestok Tours. This is a good tour but we were left a bit disappointed to not see as much as expected. The tour guide, driving our bus, really made it enjoyable (full of heaps of funny quips).

The Mount Tom Price open cut operation is situated within the mineral rich Hamersley Range that has been reported to contain up to 80 percent of all known reserves of iron ore in Australia, making it one of the worlds major iron ore deposits. Mount Tom Price was the first Rio Tinto mining operation to take place in the Pilbara Region where it now has 14 other mines, three shipping terminals and the largest private railway network in Australia.

Some more about Tom Price Mine…

In 1962 geologists identified the large, high-grade deposits of iron ore in the Hamersley Ranges in what later became known as Mt Tom Price. In 1966 Hamersley Iron (HI) was formed. The first official iron ore tram departed Tom Price on the 16th July 1966. HI undertook development of the Mt Tom Price mine as the first mine m the Hamersley area. The first shipment of ore left for Japan in August 1966.

Originally Tom Price ore was railed only to Dampier Port. Ore from Tom Price is now railed to ports at Dampier and Cape Lambert. This rail system was the first standard gauge, heavy haul railways in Australia, and the first extensive privately owned and operated railways. Rio Tinto has since expanded too many more mines and now comprises mainline systems of approximately 1600kms.

With trains approximately 2.5km in length and consisting of 236 ore cars each carrying approximately 120t of ore per car, averaging out at approximately 28,000t per train load. The early railways were built under demanding physical and technical conditions and provided the basis for further developments over the past 50 years.

  • Train over 2.5km long
  • 4500hp each locomotive
  • Approx 120 tonne ore per car
  • Approx 28,000 tonne per train load
  • Average of 5 trains per day from Tom Price
    • Pooled Fleet consists approx 45 x 236 cars
    • Approx 200 locomotives in the fleet
    • Approx 10,500 ore cars in the fleet
  • Iron Ore output:
    • Hematite Fe²O³
    • Waste – Below 50% Fe
    • Low Grade – 50% to 60% Fe
    • High Grade – Above 60% Fe
    • Lump Ore – 6mm > 40mm Tom Price Ore approx 66% Fe
    • Fine Ore – <6mm Tom Price Ore 64% Fe

Tom Price Night Photography

Brendan took me out to a quiet and dark location to teach me about doing night photography (stars etc). It was great learning something like this as he is really good at this type of photography. Our biggest issue was a 3/4 full moon so it wasn’t totally dark. These are my attempts…


Port Hedland WA

About Port Hedland

Port Hedland is one of the three major iron ore ports in the Pilbara. It is an industrial city committed to the extraction, processing and exporting of iron ore. The city is defined by a huge port at Nelson Point with its gigantic iron ore carriers; and the seemingly endless iron ore trains (as long as three kilometres and with up to 300 wagons) which move backwards and forwards from the mines at Mount Newman. It is also the major port for Rio Tinto’s salt export business.

Beyond being a vital link in the export of iron ore and salt, the city does offer excellent fishing, whale watching, mangrove crabbing, bird watching and turtle nesting. It has a new and attractive town park and it also makes a convenient base for tours of adjacent towns and national parks. The satellite town of South Hedland (18 km inland) was established due to a shortage of land above cyclonic storm surge levels adjacent to the original town site. When it was completed South Hedland had the state’s largest shopping complex outside the Perth metropolitan area (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Port Hedland Caravan Park

We selected the Port Hedland Discovery Park for our accommodation. A very neat and tidy place to stay but a “bit away” from things (maplink).

Brendan’s Surprise Visit

For several weeks our son Brendan and myself had been planning a surprise visit from him. Trying to keep it from his mother was a bit of a nightmare at times; but we did it.

Brendan flew into Port Hedland today and I picked him up at the airport. The video below really spells out the surprise Merrisa got when we turned up back at the caravan park. Brendan will spend 9 days with us travelling trough Port Hedland, Tom Price, Karijini National Park and Onlso (where he flys out from).

Brendan arrives

Seafarers Mission Port Tour

The Port of Port Hedland is Australia’s largest export port by annual throughput and the largest bulk minerals port in the world. Iron ore is primarily the main material which arrives at the port in massively long ore trains from the various Pilbara mines. More information can be found at the Pilbara Ports Authority website.

We figured the best way to check out the port was take the Seafarers Mission Port Tour and it was really fantastic. We gained an insight into the many services they provide to seamen who visit Port Hedland after their ship docks. Majority of it is run by volunteers and the money derived from these tours goes a long way in providing that support.

The best part of the tour is when you board the tender boat which goes around the port picking up sailors who have shore leave. The trip is fully narrated as we travelled around.

These ships are huge and you get an idea of the amount of iron ore they carry when you see and empty one coming into port and one which is about to disembark.

More about the Port of Port Hedland

Port Hedland is one of the largest iron ore loading ports in the world and the largest in Australia. In 2011 it had the largest bulk cargo throughput in Australia. With the neighbouring ports of Port Walcott and Dampier, Port Hedland is one of three major iron ore exporting ports in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

There are 19 operational berths within Port Hedland harbour:

  • 8 are owned and operated by BHP Iron Ore
  • 5 are owned and operated by Fortescue Metal Group (Twiggy Forrest)
  • 2 are owned and operated by Roy Hill Infrastructure Pty Ltd (Gina Rinehart)
  • The remaining 4 are public berths

Iron ore makes up approximately 97 percent of the port’s total trade throughput; the majority of which goes to China.

These are the Port of Port Hedland export stats for the first 6 months of 2018:

COUNTRYCopper
Concentrates
GeneralIron OreManganese
Ore
SaltSpodumeneTotals
Australia 10,698 752 1,515,175 ---1,526,625
China 76,575 - 213,755,195 463,995 555,316 1,820,728 216,671,809
Hong Kong-- 170,481 ---170,481
India 54,631 22,260 4,110,761 ---4,187,652
Indonesia- 9,622 2,010,744 101,350 157,057 -2,278,773
Japan 42,780 - 11,053,978 - 641,980 -11,738,738
Korea, Republic of-- 20,079,451 - 303,441 -20,382,892
Netherlands-- 163,603 ---163,603
Malaysia 11,182 -----11,182
Singapore-- 963,598 ---963,598
Philippines 11,485 -----11,485
Russian Federation- 2,844 ----2,844
Taiwan, Province of China-- 2,252,316 - 224,097 -2,476,413
United Kingdom-- 284,156 ---284,156
Viet Nam-- 152,062 ---152,062
Totals 207,351 35,478 256,511,520 565,345 1,881,891 1,820,728 261,022,313

Pardoo Station Stay WA

We turned off the Great Northern Highway and travelled 13km down a very corrugated, bumpy and dusty red dirt road to find Pardoo Station Stay (maplink).

This place was recommended to us by many people on our travels but we really could not see what all of the fuss was about. Maybe it was because we stayed at Barnhill Station and 80 Mile Beach beforehand which were really great.

They do have a massive communal fire each night which is great for meeting new people.

The beach is about 10km drive from the station and there is a creek about 3.5km away (maplink) which both are supposed to have good fishing but we have had no luck yet.

These drives take you through the working part of the station with cattle in large groups in several spots. Each morning they have a half dozen “poddy calves” which are hand fed. This is pretty cute.


80 Mile Beach WA

80 Mile Beach Caravan Park is situated about 14km from the main highway (maplink) and is actually part of Wallal Downs Station

This beach would have to be the unofficial sea shell capital of Australia! There’s heaps to do here, fish, relax on the beach or happy hours galore! There is definitely no swimming here as the ocean is full of sea snakes and sharks.

Here is a nice YouTube video we found about 80 Mile Beach…

Check it out on TripAdvisor

Beach Fishing

80 Mile Beach is a magnificent long white sand beach which is safe to drive your 4WD on. Let your tyres down to 25PSI and scoot along to do some fishing or just a tour of the beach.

This day the 6 of us headed off to try out a spot of fishing. First spot was the “creek” which we were told was about 10km from the caravan park BUT we discovered it was actually 23km. Had a fish there with no success then trundled back down the beach a bit and had a cast there. I caught a shark (about 4 foot) which gave me a fantastic fight with the drag screaming and me worrying whether I would run out of line or not. Eventually got him into the shallows but he bit through my line and was off; with one of my lures still in his mouth – bugger! Rest of the fishing was then done with a wire tracer and lure which rewarded me with a nice Blue Threadfin Salmon.

Merrisa bought me a very trendy cool fishing shirt which must have brought me some luck as I was the only one to catch anything; but as I always say “It’s all about the serenity

A collection of the regulars have their own special fishing buggies constructed using a quad bike with purpose built trailer – rod holders, sun shade, esky, bait box, comfortable seating and even mounted stubby holders. One of these outfits even had a skeleton inside with a sign saying “the fish are a bit slow on the bite today” (check the photos).

Shell Collecting

80 Mile Beach is a mecca for shell collectors. So while the blokes fished the girls went shell hunting or all of us went together. Plenty of beach means plenty of shells and some really cool shells were found by all. We even came across a sea snake which had died then was petrified by the sun.


Barnhill Station WA

We left Broome and travelled 138km down to a really nice little caravan park called Barnhill Station. (maplink)

So many people told us how good this spot was so we thought “why not” and it hasn’t failed us. It’s about 10km along a (red) sand road to the park going through 3 farm gates along the way to the coast. We hoped to get a site with a view of the beach (spectacular) but we ended up with a view of the dunnies (bugger!).

It is so nice to be in a non-regimented park like we were in at Broome. Plenty of space and trees, but we still have that bloody red sand (washing the feet every-night before bed). This park also has a lot of regulars who stay for 2-3 months at a time. One guy was telling me it’s his 19th year!

They run games each night, have a bowling green and also have special park run meal events like Pizza night on Fridays & Tuesdays and a Roast on Sunday nights. Pretty cool.

The beach is pretty spectacular with all sorts of different colourful rock formations and the fishing is good (so I’m told).

Some links…

Footy match at the Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community

A large group of people from the Barnhill Station Caravan Park travelled south to watch an AFL footy game at the Bidyadanga Community.

The local team, called the Emus were playing Derby (who had to drive for 5 hours to get there). There was a girls game on first followed by a boys game. It was fantastic to see so much talent on the field from all teams.

Sunday Roast Dinner

Every Sunday  the Barnhill Station team put on a Sunday night roast. $17 per head gets you soup, main and dessert. A great feed had by all.

We were also entertained by Frankie Shoveler; a singer from the local Bidyadanga Community. A bit of dancin’ and a lot of singin’ along.

Frankie sings some AC/DC

Tai Chi & Left Right Centre Fun

One of the Barnhill Station regulars runs a free Tai Chi session every morning which Merrisa and Michelle attended. What a beautiful setting to practice your Tai Chi.

While at Barnhill we discovered this really hilarious dice game called Left, Right, Centre. You have 4 dice (all the same) with the faces marked with L R C K (Left Right Centre Keep) and when they are thrown you have to pass your money in the direction shown on top of each dice. So the money flows backwards and forwards until it all ends up in the Centre (the pot) and the last person left with any money wins the pot. When there are a large number of people playing the game you can hear the screams and laughs ring throughout the campsite.

The girls played one night while the blokes all sat around the fire. Very laid back environment at Barnhill Station – totally recommend a visit. Check out the rules for playing this fun game below.


Horizontal Falls WA

About Horizontal Falls

The Horizontal Falls are a unique experience and a reminder of the incredible power the moon has over the Earth’s oceans and tides. Surprisingly the falls are still little known although they are unique and the experience is unforgettable. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

The Horizontal Falls trip was one of our “Bucket List” items and should be on anyone’s who visit the Kimberley in Western Australia. We booked the 24 hour trip and it was totally worth every cent! It looked so good that Gwyn & Bill (Merrisa’s folks) flew to Broome to join us on it. The tour only takes 10 participants so the smaller group really works well.

We stayed in Derby overnight the day before the trip began so that we’d be ready for the 9:30 pick-up. Flew by seaplane from Derby to Talbot Bay and then transferred to our own accommodation (away from the crowds) in Cyclone Creek.

Some of our experiences were…

  • Trip starts with a fascinating flight out from Derby passing over the falls before landing at Talbot Bay
  • Swam with the Tawny Sharks (we were in the cage); which are blind sharks and are similar to Wobbegong sharks in that they suck their food in before chewing it up
  • Took multiple trips through the falls – both sets
  • Went fishing on the luxury fishing vessel “Category 5” for a few hours and caught all sorts of fish. Gwyn caught a small shark!
  • Took a helicopter flight over the area, taking in the falls in full flow, which was amazing (no doors on the chopper!)
  • Sunrise cruise at 6:00am to check out the changing colours of the cliffs
  • One more trip out to the falls with several passes through them before we left to go back to Derby
  • Magnificent Baramundi lunch and Scotch Fillet steak dinner
  • Our main guy Louie and the staff onboard were fantastic. Nothing was a bother for them and they really know their stuff
  • Made new friends. A small group of ten was just perfect and everyone got on with each other.

I took 368 photos on this trip and have “culled” them down to our favourites (now 50), please enjoy…

A bit more about the falls…

The Horizontal Falls or Horizontal Waterfalls are located in the Talbot Bay in the Kimberley region of western Australia. Although called waterfalls, this natural phenomenon actually consist of a pair of openings or gorges in the McLarty Range through which massive amount of water are pushed by tidal waves, creating temporary waterfalls up to 5 meters high. When the tide changes, so does the direction of the flow.

The twin gaps are located on two ridges running parallel approximately 300 meters apart. The first and most seaward gap is about 20 meters wide and the second, most spectacular, gap is about 10 meters wide. When the rising or falling tide occurs, the water builds up in front of the gaps faster than it can flow through them. This in turn creates an amazing waterfall effect as the water rushes through and then down to the lower levels on the other side of the ridgelines. The process is reversed and it is repeated again in the opposite direction.

The tides in this area have a 10 meter variation which occurs over six and a half hours from low tide to high tide and vice versa. On a slack tide it is possible to drive boats through the two gaps to the bay behind.

The waterfall phenomena has been described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”.

Some links…

Feeding the sharks
1st boat run thru the falls
2nd boat run thru the falls
1st Helicopter flight over the falls
2nd Helicopter flight over the falls

Derby WA

About Derby

Given the relative proximity of Broome (it is only 222 km down the road), Derby has the quality of a Cinderella, overwhelmed by her more “important” big sister. It is a small service town with a huge wharf surrounded by unique and special attractions. Its importance for visitors lies in its position at the western end of the Gibb River Road; its closeness to Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre with its magical exhibition of Wandjina creation images; its fascinating, if disturbing, Boab Prison tree; its access to the largest coral reef in Australia; its regular flights to the magical Horizontal Falls; and its magical story of Jandamarra (Pigeon), the daring local Aborigine who outwitted the local police and became a hero to his people.

Derby is a strange outback town which, like so many of the towns in the Kimberley, is more important because of the surrounding attractions rather than any appeal that might exist within the town. It is famed for its huge tides which, at their extreme, rise and fall up to 11.8 metres leaving the town surrounded by vast mud flats. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Why Derby?

Traveled to Derby from Broome (maplink), with Gwyn & Bill, so we would be ready to do the “Horizontal Falls” the next day. We had already booked accommodation but one look at the place and it was a unanimous vote to find somewhere else – should have realised it when it was half the cost of anywhere else! So we ended up at the Spinifex Hotel which was real nice.

Must admit though there is not much to do in Derby so it was good that it was just an overnighter. The main street looks great with a line of Boab Trees down the centre.

We took a short drive to the Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre which was pretty interesting. The art gallery consists mainly of paintings of Wandjina; who in the Kimberly Aboriginal culture is the supreme Creator and a symbol of fertility and rain. Tip – see the video before the artwork, then it all makes sense. Worth the short trip.

The other main attraction in Derby is the Wharf which should be visited at sunset. It (apparently) has the largest tide difference in Australia of about 11 metres. We had lunch at the Wharf Cafe which was pretty nice.


Broome WA

About Broome

Modern day Broome, which draws tens of thousands of tourists during the winter months, is the brainchild of one man. It was Lord Alistair McAlpine, known affectionately as “Maggie Thatcher’s bagman” because he was the Treasurer of the British Tory Party, who turned a sleepy, isolated, pearl fishing town on the far edge of the continent into a personal fiefdom. It was McAlpine who attracted government money to the town and built the famous and luxurious holiday resort at Cable Beach. He built the Cable Beach Resort in a style that echoed the old pearling lugger captain’s cottages of the town. Instead of bulldozing and building high rise apartment blocks he bought up the best of the rundown buildings in town (Matso’s Store is the most famous example), moved them to ideal locations and simply ensured that their uniqueness was preserved and restored. It is no accident that the architectural style of the Cable Beach resort owes more than a little to the historic Captain Gregory’s House which McAlpine bought, relocated and restored. Today McAlpine is barely remembered but the legacy that he created lives on and a few years ago the town was booming (during the mining boom) so much that a block of land could be sold for up to $1 million.

Broome is a wonderland for the 300,000 tourists who arrive each year. It is easy to spend a week and not exhaust the attractions in the area. This is an historic pearling town which has metamorphosed into one of the most enjoyable holiday destinations in the country (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Palm Grove Caravan Park

5 months prior to setting out on our adventure we thought we would pre-book a caravan park in Broome. We tried Cable Beach Caravan Park – fully booked; then Palm Grove Caravan Park (maplink) and were so lucky that the day we called there was a cancellation so we grabbed it for 3 weeks, otherwise we would not have gotten in there either.

The park is in a great location but everyone is crammed in and the daily sport is to watch new-commers attempting to park their vans in the skinny little roads they have. Just over the road is Divers Tavern pub and then a short stroll to the beach.

Merrisa’s mum and dad also came along flying in for 2 weeks so they could do the Horizontal Falls with us.

Our 1st day saw a totally awesome sunset on Cable Beach.

Willie Creek Oyster Farm

We drove out to Willie Creek Oyster Farm with Merrisa’s mum and Bill to do a tour of the oyster farm. Got to drive on the Cape Leveque Road, which is pretty rough (maplink).

The tour is really great. Our tour guide Sophie took us through the process for culturing the rare and beautiful Australian South Sea Cultured Pearl produced at the Willie Creek Pearl Farm.We learnt that there are 5 important aspects of determining a pearl’s worth…

  1. Lustre
  2. Colour
  3. Size
  4. Shape
  5. Complexion (quality)

We then ventured out to the racks where the oysters spend their days lazing away in the beautiful blue waters of Willie Creek.

The tour naturally ends in the shop where Sophie drapes this beautiful drop pearl around Merrisa’s neck. There was no going back; as I knew that it looked so well on her and that she deserved it – so the words were “wrap it up”. Merrisa’s Pearl ticked all 5 of the important aspects for selecting a pearl – check out the photos.

Whale Watching

We booked into our 1st Whale Watching tour with Broome Whale Watching and it was an absolutely magnificent day. These guys have been running their tours for 20 years and guarantee that you will see whales or you get your money back and they did not disappoint.

There were about 30 people onboard the catamaran Ballena (Spanish for whale). The day started with a heavy sea-fog which was a bit scary but it cleared as we left the coast-line. It made me think of the theme words to Gilligan’s Island TV show – “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…”

Plenty of whales and a brilliant sunset to close out the trip. We absolutely loved it. Cut 236 photos back to 20 so please enjoy.

Staircase to the Moon

On only a few times of the year does the phenomenon known as “The Staircase to the Moon” occur when a full moon rises over the exposed tidal flats of Roebuck Bay in Broome. The Staircase to the Moon happens 2 – 3 days a month between March and October.

We were fortunate enough to time our stay in Broome with this event and went along, with thousands of other people, to partake in the experience. But I must say – there’s a lot of hullabaloo about this event and it wasn’t really all that fantastic AND I must learn how to photograph a full moon too!

Cable Beach Sunset

One of the big Four Wheel Drive attractions in Broome is to drive down onto Cable Beach to watch the sunset and camel tours.

So off we ventured and parked up on the beach to take in the sights. It was pretty cool; the only mistake we made was to leave the camera, drinks and nibbles behind. The sunset was yet another brilliant event and we captured the moment on our phones.

You can smell the camels coming and there are about four sets of them. Heaps of 4WDs as well along the way too.


Geikie (Danggu) Gorge WA

One of the nicest cruises we have done was in the Geikie Gorge (27km from Fitzroy Crossing). We took the 4:00pm cruise which really shows off the amazing colours of the gorge in the late afternoon sun. Put this one on your bucket list folks and it’s really cheap too; run by WA National Parks. It is a 1 hour trip upstream from the National Park entrance.

When the Fitzroy is in full flood during the wet season it covers the whole national park. Those floods rise over 16 metres up the gorge walls and the continuous rise and fall of the water has left the bottom of the walls bleached white. The parks visitors centre has flood records nailed to the walls and roof with the highest level recorded as 2 metres above the roof; which is about 6 metres off the ground. The building is also about 20 metres above the current river level.

Geikie Gorge will shortly be renamed to it’s original indigenous name of Danggu.

Some links:


Fitzroy Crossing WA

About Fitzroy Crossing

Fitzroy Crossing came into existence for the simple reason that it was a suitable place to cross the huge Fitzroy River which, during the wet season, was capable of stranding travellers for weeks. Once a proper bridge, rather than the simple crossing, was built the town’s reason for existing largely disappeared. It is now a small, predominantly Aboriginal, settlement on the banks of the Fitzroy River. Fitzroy Crossing sprawls. Without an identifiable town centre, and with some kilometres separating the new highway from the old river crossing, the town is a series of loosely connected small settlements rather than a single community.

Its primary attractions are the beautiful Geikie Gorge which lies 15 km to the north of the town and the geologically significant Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge which lie 63 km and 95 km from the town on the road which runs north and connects with the Gibb River Road (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Fitzroy Crossing Caravan Park

We took the 397Km drive from the Bungle Bungles to Fitzroy Crossing (maplink) and booked into Fitzroy River Lodge Caravan Park.

Wonderful caravan site, which is probably one of the most spacious we have been in. Took a wander around the park and agreed this was a really good choice. It sits on the banks of the Fitzroy River (pretty dry at the moment) and all of the permanent buildings are built high off the ground to cater for the average 6 metre rise in the river each year.

Had a look at the Crossing Inn, which is the oldest Pub in WA, originally built in 1897. Also drove down to the original Fitzroy River Crossing (closed due to poor condition at entry point).

Some links…


Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) WA

About the Bungle Bungles

There is an easy way, a sensible way and a hard way. You can fly over the Bungle Bungles and be amazed by the gigantic bell shaped rock towers with horizontal banding produced by layers of black lichens and orange silica and long to go and have a closer look. You can take one of the many options available from East Kimberley Tours all of which fly from Kununurra and then range from half a day to two days exploring on the ground. Or you can drive from the main highway over 55 km of incredibly rough and difficult road (it takes around two to three hours) and that will allow you to really experience this remarkable collection of unique geological formations close up. It is worth the effort. It is one of the great natural wonders of Australia (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Bungle Bungles Caravan Park

Stayed at the Bungle Bungles Caravan Park for 2 nights (maplink). Very dusty and the power kept on tripping out because there was a guy there with an electric car and every time he charged it the circuit breakers flicked for the whole park!

Had a friendly cow which came around to say hi to everyone.

Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) Walk

It is a 87km (3.75 hour) drive over some pretty rugged (tyre ripping) dirt roads (maplink) to get into the Purnululu (Bungle Bungle) National Park. We were (apparently) fortunate that the roads had recently had a grader run through. Purnululu is the indigenous name for the park and it will be shortly changed to it from Bungle Bungles.

We did the southern section of the park, leaving the car at Piccaninnie carpark to walk the Domes and Cathedral Gorge. Wow, this was incredibly breath taking. You have no idea of the size of the domes until you are before them. Photographs do not do this site justice as it is so massive.

We were a bit late getting out of the park and had to drive a lot of it in the dark, following another 4WD which through up so much dust it was like driving in a heavy fog. Tried to give them some separated distance but at times you just had to stop as it was just impossible to see.

Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) Helicopter Flight

Having walked part of the Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) National Park the day before we decided to fly over it as well.

This was on our bucket list and splurged $495 each for a 40 minute helicopter flight with Bungle Bungles Helicopters, from our caravan park; a lot closer than most flight departures (so more time over the park).

Our pilot, Greg, is a great grandson of Sir Reginald Ansett so we knew we were in good hands.

Wow – a big tick off on the bucket list. This is a must do if you ever travel to this part of our wonderful land!

Here is a great YouTube video (not ours) Showcasing the Bungle Bungles flight…


Lake Argyle WA

About Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle Village was the original construction site for Lake Argyle Dam. Today it is the remnants of the village with the main local attractions being the genuinely interesting Argyle Downs Homestead Museum and the vast Lake Argyle, the second largest artificial dam in Australia and the lifeblood of the Ord River scheme (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Lake Argyle Resort

We spent 5 nights at Lake Argyle Resort. You cannot book here and it’s a mad 70km dash from Kununurra to get a powered site. We arrived at 9:15am and were told that no sites were available but Merrisa smiled really nice at the site controller “Macca” and we managed to get into a powered site – phew!

This is a spectacular place to visit and stay. It was created when Lake Argyle was first flooded in 1974.  The lake is 19 times the size of Sydney Harbour. We took a few drives and took in some of the sites.

Some links…

Check out this YouTube video (from Today Tonight 2015)…

Pannikin Bay Lookout

We took a 4WD track to a beautiful location overlooking Pannikin Bay section of Lake Argyle for lunch. Pretty rough track which was rewarded with the most spectacular views and we were the only ones there (maplink).

 

Panninik Lookout
Magnificent view from Pannikin Bay Lookout

Lunchtime Cruise on Lake Argyle

You cannot visit Lake Argyle without taking one of their famous cruises. We learnt a lot about the creation of the lake, visited an island set up by Harry Butler and Malcolm Douglas which is known as the “Ord Ark” for animals which were trapped by the flooding of the lake as there are no predators on the island.

A swim at the end was great including the fact that I swam with what is about 30,000 fresh water crocodiles!

Some links…

Homestead Museum and Bluff Walk

When Lake Argyle was flooded the original Durack family homestead needed to be relocated as the area was about to be flooded. They pulled it apart, numbered all the bricks and stored them in old 44 gallon drums. When they came to rebuild it the numbers had washed off so they needed to rebuild using photos. Well, they did a great job and the homestead is now a museum (maplink).

After we looked through the homestead museum we took the “bluff walk” to a ridge which looks across the lake at the resort and caravan park. A great walk.

Gourmet Camp Oven Experience

We extended our stay at Lake Argyle just so we could participate in a small tour (10 people) called the Gourmet Camp Oven Experience.

This is run by a young guy by the name of Josh and his partner Tamsyn from Lake Argyle Adventures. You leave the resort in an old Land Cruiser Troop Carrier and travel out into the middle of nowhere high up above Lake Argyle for a bushman’s dinner.


Wyndham WA

About Wyndham

Wyndham, Western Australia’s most northerly town, sits on the edge of the Cambridge Gulf surrounded by uninviting salt lakes, desert and mudflats which stretch to the horizon. It is actually two towns. There is old Wyndham (known as Wyndham Port) which lies under that part of the Erskine Range known as ‘The Bastion’ and, a few kilometres up the Gulf on the road to Kununurra is Wyndham Three Mile which is sometimes known as Wyndham East.

Few travel writers have been kind to Wyndham. In 1951 in The Outside Track George Farwell described the town as “a lonely pin-point of settlement upon a vast and empty landscape of tidal estuaries, mangroves, unpeopled valley floors and barren, tree-less ranges” and in 1953 Leslie Rees described the town as having “empty 44-gallon drums, beer bottles, old tins, bits of sheet iron, termite-eaten wood. A background of salt marshes and harsh, desolate hills under the torrid sun”. Remarkably, in the intervening seventy years it has changed little. It is a port and it leads nowhere. It is a strange place which suffers from tropical ennui being oppressively hot and unforgiving during the summer wet season (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Day Trip to Wyndham

Drove out to Wyndham from Kununurra for the day and had a look around. Main attraction is the 5 rivers lookout. This alone is a good enough reason to visit. Also had a look at the Warriu Park Dreamtime Statues.

Some links…


Kununurra WA

About Kununurra

There is a time each year when Kununurra, to borrow a very Sydney term, “is like Pitt Street”. The ever-increasing number of “grey nomads” (baby-boomers with their caravans and camping equipment) travelling around Australia means that during the winter months they descend in their thousands on Kununurra as they make their way around Australia. It is so bad that there are often rows and rows of caravans parked along Highway One simply because the caravan accommodation in the town does not match the demand.

The problem is that Kununurra is a very long way from just about everywhere. In spite of its apparent isolation Kununurra the town, which came into existence in the early 1960s as a construction camp for the Ord River Scheme, is now a vital hub with access to most of the main attractions in the East Kimberley. Fly to the Bungle Bungles and Faraway Bay; go by boat to Lake Argyle; and drive along the Gibb River Road to El Questro and Home Valley Station. The town is an ideal base to explore some of the wonders of north western Australia. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Roadtrip to Kununurra

We crossed the NT/WA border on way to Kununurra and were stopped by the border control point to check for any fruit & vegies as there is very strict controls here to protect the huge food-bowl areas of Kununurra and Lake Argyle. We’d already disposed of our vegies (and honey) at Timber Creek by donating them to the local community kitchen people who make meals for the needy. The guy checked out our van and was OK with everything UNTIL he grabs something in the fridge and says “OK, whats this then; a bottle of grapes?” and we go “uhhh?” to which he holds up a bottle of wine LOL – what a comedian.

Settled into the Hidden Valley Caravan Park for 3 nights.

Visited the Zebra Rock Mine (back into NT) which was great. Purchased a chunk of Zebra Rock for $25 to find that most places in the area use them as paper weights – feeling a bit ripped off but it’s all about the experience (right?).

Some links…


Timber Creek NT

About Timber Creek

Timber Creek, a major stopping point roughly halfway between Katherine to Kununurra on the Victoria Highway, is a town in transition. It currently has a population of less than 300 which makes it more than just a roadhouse but hardly a major service centre. The increasing traffic during the winter months means that it has attracted enthusiastic anglers eager to get onto the Victoria River and catch the precious barramundi. For non-anglers its interest lies in the western section of the Judbarra/Gregory National Park which is accessible by 4WD and offers opportunities to explore gorges and rugged outback country far removed from the crowds who cling to Highway 1 (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Roadtrip to Timber Creek

A couple of posts back we talked about meeting the head copper from Katherine and how he was going to arrange with the copper at Timber Creek to meet up and give us a tour.

So we leave Katherine and off to Timber Creek we go with van in tow and just outside of town we are pulled over for a random breath test. I ask the coppa if his name is Ray and he responds with “yep and you must be Neil”. We all had a good laugh at that and then arranged with Ray to pay him a visit at the station later that day.

Ray was what you would call the typical country cop. He loved a chat and told us some pretty amazing stories of policing in the district. He gave us the keys to the museum and we wondered off down the road to have a gander. It was a really old building which contained a heap of old memorabilia and items from over the years but was very ramshackled and needed a lot of TLC. Back at the station and Merrisa met Ray’s dog (check the photo) which was a massive cross-eyed smoocher.

We also ventured off to some local attractions such as the massive Boab Tree marked by the explorer, A.C. Gregory on July 2 1856, as well as Policeman’s Point (saw some Jabiru fishing in the river).

At the Nakeroo Memorial Lookout we also learnt about the Northern Australia Observation Unit (NAOU) and aboriginal volunteers. The NAOU was set up by anthropologist W H Stanner in June 1942 and consisted of over 400 men. The unit`s role was to provide early warning of a Japanese invasion and to form a guerilla force in the event of such an attack.

The Wirib Store Caravan Park wasn’t too bad except they had been restricted to only 12 sites (lucky we booked) due to a failed septic tank. We found out that it had failed about 4 years ago! Timber creek runs along the boundary of the park so I went for a fish. No luck with the fish probably because there were 6 fat freshwater crocs along the bank.

Some Links…