Published: May 23rd 2011May 20th 2011
Cuppa with a view
but dark clouds were beginning to gather
Thursday 19th – today we would be heading for Kalbarri which was a relatively short journey of 166 kms. Our neighbours were going there too but we weren’t sure which caravan park they were staying on. The roads out of Geraldton were good so we made steady headway. Soon, though, the roads began to wind and undulate a bit so progress was slowed somewhat as PIE struggled with a few of the hills. We were in no hurry and the traffic was light and with suitably placed “overtaking lanes” from time to time we were able to meander at our leisure. The first place of any consequence that we reached was Northampton and it came at an ideal time for a break. Northampton is a fairly small country town but has a pleasant parking area and a few shops, one of which I was anxious to take advantage of as I needed a “voucher” to add the monthly pre-paid credit to the mobile phone and today was the cut-off day. Had I not added a minimum of $20 today I would have lost any credit left on the phone which, as it happens, was quite considerable. Fortunately, vouchers are readily available
at supermarkets and even smaller shops like newsagents which was where I bought the voucher in Northampton.
After a nice break which allowed me to process the phone voucher, we hit the road again which, this time, took us away from the main highway and on a minor road taking us towards Kalbarri. We passed by an area renowned for its Pink Lake but we were disappointed that, on first sighting, it didn’t appear to be very pink. The lake is of considerable length and as we progressed it became more and more pink but at the point where it was at its most vivid there were no parking places to take advantage of it. We pressed on and were soon on the coastal approach to Kalbarri, a location we particularly liked last time and were anxious to see if it had changed much in eight years. Fortunately, apart from a housing development about 10 kms out of town which appeared to be slow in developing, it had changed very little and we were soon looking down on the area where the Murchison River meets the ocean creating some spectacular waves. We were booked in to a different caravan
park to last time and soon found the Tudor Holiday Park just a short distance out of the town centre – ideally placed for access to the shops and main beach area. We were allocated a “block” site onto which Graham expertly manouevered Sweetie (he’s actually very good at it now) and we were soon settled in and were eating a late lunch at about 1:30pm. The site was on the end of a row with nothing opposite and only a small access road to some chalets behind so it was perfectly placed for a quiet few days. It was a beautiful and warm afternoon so we strolled to the beach and watched some people swimming, sun-bathing and fishing which all augured well for our stay in Kalbarri. The sunset later on was magnificent - we had strolled to the jetty just in time to see a couple of fish being caught by a family with two young fishermen. There seemed to be ‘hundreds of fish leaping out of the water enticingly just out of reach! Everyone on the jetty was in awe of the vivid colour of the sky – possibly the most colourful sunset we’ve ever seen.
The following morning was a little cloudy but pleasant so we decided to take advantage of what promised to be a good day. We drove to the Kalbarri National Park where our WA Parks Pass allowed us free access. About 25 kms or so along a gravel road is one of the best natural features we have visited – Nature’s Window. The road was poor in places but easily passable at a modest speed so we were soon at the first viewing point which was The Loop. After a short walk we were greeted with a fantastic overview of the Murchison River winding its way dramatically through the park below us. The sharp bends and the sandy river banks were a spectacular sight and we spent some time there simply admiring the view.
We had a choice of visiting points next but we were anxious to re-visit Nature’s Window so we took the road that wound down towards the car park. There were quite a lot of vehicles already there but, apart from a group of young back-packers winding their way up through the gorge, we couldn’t see many tourists. There’s a special gorge-rim walk which starts at this
point so we presumed many of them were doing that. We sat for a while enjoying the fabulous view and had a refreshing cup of tea then we followed the start of the walk, down some steep stairs which led to Nature’s Window. We had forgotten just how difficult part of the walk was and I was glad I had put my boots on for that extra bit of stability. We walked along the top of the gorge and soon reached the very special rock formation known as ‘Nature’s Window’ and it was just as spectacular as we remembered it. It was also one of Sarah’s and Darryl’s favourite places and with the sun shining through the opening in the rocks we could easily understand why they chose this place to have one of their Christmas card photos taken. We asked one of the few people there to take our photo and we returned the favour. Several groups of people then began to appear from the rim walk and make their way hurriedly towards the car-park. We lingered for a while engrossed in the view and then understood the reason for the hurried activity. We hadn’t noticed the mass of
dark rain-bearing clouds rapidly approaching and, before we knew it, we were in the middle of a horrendous storm.
There was plenty of shelter there underneath overhanging rocks but I was concerned what effect the rain would have on the difficult path leading off the rocks and then getting back to the car. It was hard enough getting down in the dry and I was worried the rocky path would become treacherous when wet so I insisted we went back to the car. In hindsight that was a bit of a mistake! The climb back took at least 15 minutes and, despite donning anoraks which we had taken with us “just in case”, we got absolutely drenched. We were amazed to see people still coming down from the car park not prepared for rain whilst others we could see were continuing on the rim walk. Graham only had a light-weight anorak and by the time we reached the car he was wet through – and I mean wet through!! He was fuming as he would have preferred to take shelter until the rain had eased. Needless to say, the rain did ease but the clouds still looked threatening. Because
of Graham’s “drowned rat” appearance we decided to forego the other viewing points until another day and began to make our way out of the park - what an experience that was!! The torrential rain had turned the gravel road into a red, muddy quagmire and the poor surface coming in now was twice as bad and huge dips had appeared full of water. Graham had to maintain a reasonable speed for fear of getting bogged down and it was a journey neither of us would want to repeat. After what seemed like ages we reached the entrance to the park to find Road Closed signs had been erected to prevent anyone else venturing in. Poor PIE had taken on an ”orange” appearance and to make matters worse, the handbrake now failed to function!
We returned to the caravan to get out of our sodden clothes and to contemplate our next move. We found a local garage and asked if they could have a look at the handbrake. “Friday afternoon mate – you must be joking”! He must have sensed our disappointment as he suggested we took it back first thing on Saturday morning and he would see what
he could do. The weather had eased considerably so we considered cleaning the car but there was no car wash in town and car washing was banned on the caravan park. A neighbour suggested that we find a big puddle somewhere and drive through it several times – which was what he had done! That didn’t seem like such a daft idea so armed with some sponges and a cool box full of clean water which we’d smuggled from a spare tap, we ventured off to find a puddle. That wasn’t difficult as everywhere was still wet, so we found a large puddle in a viewing point just off the main highway and set about cleaning PIE. We actually did a very good job though what the few people in the cars that passed us must have thought I don’t know. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any photos of poor orange PIE (and the drowned rat). Later on we had calmed down enough to venture out to witness another sunset – not as good as the previous one as there were still some clouds about, but it was very nice.
There are more photos below