Heading Into Golden Climes

The National Hotel, Sandstone WA – the town was established in 1906 after the discovery of gold in 1902. The hotel was established in 1907

Headed out under clear blue skies this morning heading northeast to Mt Magnet then across to Leinster, down to Leonora and set up camp 50 kilometres north of Menzies. We passed through the quaint village of Sandstone which tells the tale of mining booms and busts. Gold was discovered in large quantities around 1902 and the town itself was established in 1906. By 1907 it had a population of six to eight thousand, with all the infrastructure to support both the population and the mines. But the gold ran out and by 1919 the population had fallen to two hundred. Today the town’s hopes are once again pinned on a mining boom as nearby mining sites have received new interest with one being sold recently. The current population of fifty is hoping for golden times again.

Much of this afternoon was spent driving in extremely strong winds and Melva sent Jenny a text to say that the Coopers were leaving Kalgoorlie today instead of Tuesday. They would have had rocket assist with this wind!

Geraldton Journey

HMAS SYDNEY Memorial, Geraldton WA – a moving tribute to the 645 sailors who lost their lives during that fateful naval battle in 1941

We made the trip down the coast from Kalbarri, stopping in at Port Gregory with its pink lakes and not much else, then onto Horrocks Beach which is a thriving, upmarket beachside settlement. From there it was back onto the main drag and down to Northampton where we stopped in search of an elusive fruit bowl and had a walk through the street to view the old buildings. On to Geraldton in time for lunch on the foreshore then a short visit to the HMAS Sydney Memorial. The stainless steel dome is made up of 645 seagulls representing those poor souls lost in that battle, and granite walls list the names of all those who perished. A lone statue of a woman looks seaward, waiting for her lost sailor to return – very touching.

We left Geraldton and headed out toward Mt Magnet, stopping 50 kms west of Yalgoo to set up camp in the bush behind a roadside stop. We’re back inland, away from the coast and into warmer weather.

Kalbarri National Park

Nature’s Window, Kalbarri National Park. Stunning natural effect overlooking Murchison Gorge

Did the Kalbarri National Park today after watching the pelicans being fed on the foreshore at Kalbarri. The walks were relatively easy although one poor old Victorian lady took a tumble and hit the rocks (literally) – she left her mark with a pool of blood, but I thought it might be in poor taste to take crime scene photos. Luckily a young couple were on the scene when it happened so were able to patch her up and she was back on her feet in no time. We walked out to the Z Bend Lookout where you can see how the gorge twists its way through the landscape. Out of there to the West Loop Lookout and then onto the last one for us, Nature’s Window Lookout. It really is something else and is understandably popular with local and overseas visitors. The path down to it is easy, bitumen 90% of the way with a short traverse over flat rocks to see one of the most impressive gorge views that I have seen in Australia.

    Back home to get some fabulous fresh fish from the Fish Truck parked down at the jetty – the fish caught last night. The boats had been returning to port all morning.

    Time for coffee and cake up the street and dinner back at camp tonight. Off to Geraldton in the morning.

Kicking Back at Kalbarrie

The entrance to the Murchison River at Kalbarrie, WA

Easy day today. Left the free camp for the hours drive into Kalbarrie. We’ll visit the National Park tomorrow to do a couple of walks but, for today, it was a Derby and Joan stroll up the street to have lunch at Angie’s Cafe (lovely flat head tails dearie) and a walk in the park. More action tomorrow I promise.

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Shell Beach, Shark Bay WA. Amazing to see such an expanse of hard white beaches composed of millions of cockle shells built up over the millennia – literally scratch the surface and you can see the resulting mass of shells.

Time for us to leave Denham and Shark Bay. We stopped in at Shell Beach and were amazed by the mass of the cockle shells that had built up to a depth beyond that which we could see, there was just no end to this sight, all caused through the ultra high salinity in Hamelins Pool in this part of Shark Bay. We went into Hamelin Pool Beach to view the Stromalites. Again this was fascinating to see this colony that has existed since the age of the dinosaurs – Australia has such wonders that so many people know so little about. We left the World Heritage area and hit the North West Coastal Highway heading south to an early stop – we cannot get into Kalbarri until tomorrow night.

Time to contemplate some navel fluff before boarding the party bus again tonight.

A Special Port

Let’s drink a toast to old mates and absent friends

After our dinner at the pub we came back to have our traditional glass of port (and a piece of chocolate – we live high on the hog here) and we cracked a bottle of Samuel Port, part of Dave’s collection. Its so old that it is actually called port, there isn’t even a ‘Best By Date’ anywhere to be seen. Jenny managed to break the cork off leading to a hurried but fruitless attempt to stop the cork going down in the port… sort of a storm in  the port. It is a truly special matured port to be shared on the shores of Shark Bay – there’s almost a story in that…

Cheers mate.

Feeding the Tourists

Alright I knew you only wanted to see this shot but there is more to Monkey Mia than bloody dolphins – well actually there isn’t that much else.

Luckily Jenny had read the pamphlet on the feeding of the dolphins at Monkey Mia so she knew that they only get fed three times in the morning with the first one at about 7.45 am and that the dolphins dictate when the next feeds will take place, so we made our way out early and got there about 8.15 am. Within 15 minutes the dolphins were back in for their next feed, so the battle for beach position began and only those brave souls prepared to get cold wet feet had a slim chance of feeding fish to the mammals (they only get one fish each per go). As there were only 4 adult dolphins that is how many people got to feel all gooey inside and the rest of us snapped unnecessary and unexciting photos of dolphin backs before it all faded to nothing after twenty minutes.

After the morning excitement we had to put our feet up for the rest of the day before we went out for dinner at the pub.

A Denham Date

Denham looking out over Shark Bay. Beautiful sunshine, great caravan park within 100 metres of the beachfront. What a difference 24 hours makes

Kicked off from camp this morning and headed into Carnarvon. Funny sort of town on the coast with nearby agriculture but no real tourist attractions that we could see. The Visitors Information Centre seemed more interested in booking trips to see Monkey Mia, Shark Bay etcetera so we opted for morning tea in the carpark, the compulsory bread and grog run then back into the car to head to Denham. Jenny rang from Wooramel Roadhouse and was able to get us a site in the Blue Dolphin Caravan Park for two nights. We headed on down and would you believe at the Hamlen Pool turnoff were the Coopers just returning from their unsuccessful trip to Monkey Mia (the dolphins only get fed three times a day and the Coopers had paid their $16 only to discover there were no more feedings today) They hadn’t tried to book in at Denham and ended up at Hamlen Station which is nearly 100 kms out. We left them at the intersection of life and headed into our park for a much needed/longed for shower, clothes washing and replenishing of water tanks (the van’s not ours). We went for a stroll along the esplanade before heading back home for a hearty home cooked meal of chips, steak and eggs. Life is sweet.

Wet Wet Wet

A wet day on the North West Cape near Exmouth

We drove into Exmouth from camp today. As soon as we hit the Exmouth road the weather turned to sh.., ah rain. It rained constantly all the way in, getting heavier as we made our way up to Exmouth. We called into the Information Centre and the weather forecast was for continued rain until at least Tuesday, and then for cloudy weather from there on. We decided to cut our losses and head south to try and get some clear weather. After three and a half hours of driving we had left the rain behind and pulled into a camp approximately 90 kilometres north of Carnarvon. We will head into Carnarvon for some clothes washing and supplies (in particular the goon bag variety of supplies, Jenny has all but wiped out our supply) tomorrow.

Onslow and Beyond

“…And in the morning, we will remember them” – War Memorial at Onslow facing east so that the morning sun is framed by the memorial.

Made our way into Onslow first thing this morning and had morning tea there and a 2 kilometre walk along the Ian Blair Memorial Boardwalk. From the boardwalk you can view the loading pipelines that service the offshore mining industry. There is also a large salt mine on the edge of town. We went out to Old Onslow, the site of the original township settled in 1885. Onslow was moved in the late 1920’s when the mouth of the Ashburton River kept silting the port up and deeper water was found at Beadon Point where the township of Onslow sits today. Its a quaint quiet little seaside village with large industrial activities nearby – the salt mine and the LNG plants. Having meandered our way around the area we headed south, into the rain and continued until the turn off to Exmouth which we intend to visit tomorrow.