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Published: July 18th 2016
Carnarvon OTC Centre
Wish we had a dish like this for the TV!
Carnarvon gave us a chance to catch up on a lot of things, not the least of which was the shopping. Geoff will be out of hospital soon after suffering a complete breakdown when seeing the total come up on the cash register. Never have so few spent so much on so little to restock the larder; and it didn’t even include grog!
After 3 previous visits to the region, it was time to visit the O.T.C dish display and museum on the outskirts of the town. Although it is now no longer operational, it was certainly a vital piece of infrastructure for the Australian and U.S governments during the days of the early moon shots. As you would expect, there were numerous valedictory letters written by the astronauts who had relied on the Carnarvon dish for their communications back to earth. It was also instrumental in determining the location of the satellites, ensuring that action could be taken to make sure that they were at the right height above earth and at the correct latitude to deliver the planned outcomes. After perusing all the information in this quite large area we waited for our “trip” in the space capsule.
Lots of blow-outs
What an adventure that was – not. Lying on our backs with our feet in the air we listened to countdown and blast off from NASA, heard some roaring saw our rocket blast away from us then the door opened and we were welcomed back to earth. It is a pity they didn’t send all the sandflies up there as they attacked us vigorously in the Caravan Park. We might mention that it is now school holidays in WA and the roads and parks etc are packed with families having fun.
The weather remained dubious, and the forecasts for further north were not getting any better, but we have an appointment at Cape Range/Exmouth that is now only 9 days away, so it was time to move on...not very far mind you.
On the map, and all the literature Quobba Station is just a short distance further North from Carnarvon, and while we had looked in there on our 2008 trip to view the blow holes, we had not stayed. This time it was different. It is 135 kms to the camp site but it is a good bitumen road all the way. We found a location just
The biggest one
behind the dunes and set up home for 3 days. The weather was only marginally better, but it rained overnight. The location is known as “The Blowholes” and one traveller said they were even better than the one at Kiamma on the N.S.W. coast – big call, but they did perform well for us on the day, and Geoff was able to get some good photos. There are 4 different camping locations here – Blowholes, Quobba Station, Red Bluff and Gnarloo Station, although they are quite some distance apart. We took a drive to check them out and some 5 kms past the Station homestead camp ground we spotted a number of brightly coloured balloons bobbing above the ocean and cliffs. We had to stop and investigate. It was a popular spot for the helium balloon fishermen to try their luck. The idea is that you have a special balloon that is inflated with helium to a size of about 50 cms. and with the aid of an off-shore wind, it will carry your bait out from the rocks into the mouths of some very big fish. It is quite common in these parts and we recall seeing fellow campers
at Wagoo Chalets with their gas cylinders, but we did not know what they were for, until now. When we arrived we parked next to a couple who had been watching the action through their binoculars and told us that there was one fisherman who had been wrestling something for at least 30 minutes and was still at it. Geoff could not resist going down onto the rocks to watch the battle. He was told that originally the young fellow had hooked up with a mackerel, but it had since turned into a shark! It was fascinating to watch as his rod bent into a banana shape in one direction and the fisherman bent into an almost equal shape in the opposite direction. It was an epic battle and the balloon seemed not to be getting any closer to the fisherman. Geoff did get to see a 50 lb mackerel that had been successfully landed and was residing in a rock pool. We moved on to Red Bluff.
The road to Red Bluff was dirt and we were very glad that we had not decided to go there with the caravan. The theory to dirt road travel is to
The 'permanents' end...they come here for 4-6 months.
travel at least 80 kph and the corrugations/bumps even out. Geoff found that 90 – 100kph was a good speed, although Marg could not understand him saying “100 R5” or “150 L3”, as we approached each corner. Carlos Sains eat your heart out. Red Bluff was about 60 kms north, and we had to stop at 2 cross roads used by mine trucks (although it was obviously their day off when we went) before we got there. It was a nice spot, but definitely not for our van. There were some luxury ‘glamping’ tent/bungalows, a shop and a restaurant (it said so on the outside), but no toilets which Geoff wanted by that stage.
Next stop was Warroora (pron: Wora – it makes it a whole lot simpler when you ignore half the letters! ) Station, and when we arrived at the turn off from the highway, there were several cars either letting tyres down (arriving) or pumping them back up again(leaving), so we did just that, and Geoff had a legitimate use for his newly acquired tyre deflator. Job done, and we were off at 60 kph with the van in tow over the twisting and turning sandy
Sunsets are spectacular here
access road. Again, we are in a spot where the crashing waves are just 30 metres from the van. We are trying to work out how to turn the volume down when we go to bed! The site is on pure white sand and the drive to it is as hard as a rock, although the access is between the sea and the camping areas. We set up, set the satellite dish up and then went for a walk along the beach. We are behind a sand dune which gives us some protection from the wind, but not a lot as we were to discover. There appeared to be around a couple of dozen vans, tents and motor homes up on a low cliff several hundred meters down to the south from us, around a dozen where we are camped in the dunes and then around 20 or so further up the beach to the north. Those to the north have no dunes or bushes in front of them and are exposed to the howling gale.
When we arrived we had decided to pull the awning out only half way and anchor it down with ropes and put anti-flappers
Cape Range - Mesa camp
Another one - looks different?
on. We had dinner, looked at some TV and retired to bed. To sleep you ask? No, we listened to the wind increasing, increasing and then some more and the awning flapping madly and the van bouncing up and down. We made the decision to get out of bed and roll it is and then maybe we could get some sleep. The flapping sound decreased, but the bouncing van did not (from the wind you dirty minded people). The wind was pounding the van and the sand was blasting away, then came the horizontal rain. We managed some sleep, but not much. In the morning all our equipment outside – chairs, tables etc. was covered by an inch of sand and we had to dig around to find the ropes and tent pegs which had been covered completely. The satellite dish had fallen over and we could see one leg up in the air. All has been restored to how it should be and after 16 hours or so it appears that the wind is abating. And NO, we will not be putting out the awning today.
Time to move on to our final northerly destination at Cape Range N.P. on the West side of the archipelago that separates Exmouth from the Indian Ocean. On the map it is the finger pointed north on the western most hip of W.A. It was just 200 kms to Exmouth where we judged it prudent to stock up on supplies for the next two weeks. We checked into a caravan park in town at the outrageous cost of $49 for the night – because they can! Exmouth is incredibly busy little town and being only 1270 kms from Perth, some folk will do that in a day, but most take 2days... It gains its popularity primarily from its proximity to the Ningaloo Reef and the superb beaches that can be easily accessed from the town. Our effort to stock up was somewhat hampered by earlier demand denuding the shelves in the local supermarket (there are actually 2 IGA supermarkets separated by less than 30 mts across a shopping mall) but neither had a loaf of bread or a drop of fresh milk when we arrived and apples were $8/kg! We couldn’t get to Cape range quick enough.
This blog has taken some time to get out as there has not been any phone/internet coverage here. We are told that we will have success if we go 40 kms back to the Vlamingh Head lighthouse and stand on the roof of the car... If you get this, it worked!
Till next time.
P.S. what do you think of the new caravan Byrnie, and Prof – what’s your update on the Evernew? We had a look over one yesterday owned/loved by a couple from Langwarren
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