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Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Derby
August 5th 2016
Published: June 28th 2017
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Coral BayCoral BayCoral Bay

Found this monster on the beach at Coral Bay
Geo: -17.3048, 123.632

Hello from Derby

The rain finally cleared up for the last few days we were in Coral Bay which gave us a chance to do a few walks along the beach and some snorkelling in the bay. I also fitted the landing leg to the van only to find that the higher ratio of the new legs meant that the motor and gearbox could not cope with the extra load and caused the clutch to slip. Another call to the supplier and it was decided the best fix was a completely different set up with individual motors and gearbox on the top of each leg but of course this comes at an extra cost of $500 so a call KTA Insurance surprised us again when they agreed to cover the cost. The new legs were ordered and sent to Port Hedland so they would be there when we arrived.

On the 12th June we left Coral Bay and drove to the Yaraloola Rest Area (374Km) on the dry Robe River for an overnight stay then headed for Karratha (144K) the next day as we had booked the van for its annual certificate of inspection on Monday morning.

During our week in Karratha we spent a day exploring the Dampier area which is the home of the Red Dog Memorial. The North West Shelf Gas Project is also located here with the massive onshore processing plant servicing the offshore gas rigs. It was a great learning experience at the visitors centre seeing how the gas is refined and eventually processed into liquid format at -161deg C before being loaded onto ships and transported all over the world. One ship loaded with liquid gas would equate to 600 ships if it were to be transported in gas format, that's a shitp load of gas !

We also visited Hearsons Cove and walked through Deep Gorge which has many old faded Aboriginal Drawings on the rocks above. Stopped at the Dampier Salt lookout for views across the evaporation ponds.

A day trip to Millstream Chichester National Park (320Km return) was rewarded with a peaceful walk around the old Millstream Homestead taking in its natural springs and streams surrounded by palms and crystal clear pools covered in water lilies in this natural wetland, an oasis in the middle of nowhere. Millstream was originally a cattle farm which was completely self-sufficient growing its own vegies and fruit using the fresh water from its springs. The area was later purchased by the government and declared a national park to preserve the water supply used to service Karratha and Dampier. The Fortescue River can be viewed from the cliff top lookout and you can swim at Deep Reach Pool in the very cold water. On the way back we stopped at Mt Herbert and did the 4.5Km walk to McKenzie Springs which could have been spectacular if there was some water flowing over the rock formations but it was as dry as a crisp. Python Pool was next and had been talked up by the tourist info centre, it is a spectacular semi-circle of cliff face surrounding the pool of clear water at its base. Would be sensational to see it when there is water cascading over the waterfall in the middle of the cliffs. We have seen photos of Python Pool featured in many tourist brochures for this area but it's even better seeing it in person.

Another day was spent exploring Roebourne and its old Goal Museum, Wickham, Point Samson and the old Cossack Heritage Town. We stopped for lunch at Honeymoon Bay (Point Samson) and walked onto the beach, saw a guy pulling in a fish from the rocks at the end of the bay so walked over to see what he had caught, a nice Silver Trevally caught using a lure, next thing he handed me the rod and said have a go. There was a school of Trevally about 20meters off the rocks and they were fighting to get at the lure with each cast. I reeled in 5 in a row and gave the rod back, he insisted we take some with us so we left with 3 decent sized fish which were nice eating. Cossack Heritage Town is a small village of restored buildings and landmarks in a now uninhabited town which was first settled in 1863 and was the first port in the north of WA.

Karratha has a nice golf course with well cared for grass fairways and sand scrape greens, they are in the process of creating grass greens with 3 almost ready for play when we were there. Played in the Saturday comp and enjoyed this course. At drinks after the round we met a couple dressed in matching brightly coloured Loud Mouth gear who were about to have a holiday in the UK and attend The Open, while watching The Open the cameras panned onto a grandstand at one of the greens and they were sitting there in even brighter matching Loud Mouth gear to which the commentators mumbled something like "really"

The Silverado was due for a service so that was done while we were here which helped boost the economy of Karratha.

We left Karratha on 20th June and headed to Dales Campground (506Km) in Karijini National Park

The weather forecast was predicting rain in the next few days so we headed to the visitors centre for some local advice, walked up to the counter where a female indigenous ranger stood. I said “Hi how are you” the response was “Hi” I said “What's the weather going to do is it going to rain on us” she pointed at the print out of the Bureau of Meteorology's 7 day forecast and said “it's here” mmm got a live one here ! The forecast indicated today would be fine but rain was expected tomorrow so I asked “which gorge should we do today as it looks like rain tomorrow” she pointed at the map where Weano Gorge was and said “this one it's narrower” that was it so we walked away and consulted the map we had. This experience didn't improve our perception of the locals !

We headed of on the 45Km rough dirt road to the Weano Gorge lookouts and then did the upper Weano Gorge walk followed by the Lower Weano Gorge walk right through to Handrail Pool.

The views along the way vary from sheer cliff face to broken rocky outcrops meandering back and forth across the gently flowing waterway. Handrail Pool is so named as there is a steel handrail fixed to a cliff face with rocks as steps bolted to the wall so you can climb down into the stunningly beautiful pool area.

After lunch we did the walk through Hancock Gorge, part way along there was a section of water to walk through about a meter deep so of with the shoes and left them here until we returned, the water was bitterly cold. Shortly after there was a section about chest deep which many people swam through and many like us climbed up and walked along the narrow ledges to get past this section. You then enter an area named the Amphitheatre which the leads to a very narrow and slippery section with ankle deep running water named the Spider Walk which requires you to walk like a spider through this area which is less than a meter wide in places, this leads you down to Kermits Pool which is as far as you can go, beyond Kermits Pool there are another 3 pools but it is too steep and dangerous without abseiling equipment. The walk through Hancock Gorge is absolutely spectacular especially the Spider Walk and Kermits Pool well worth the effort. There were a number of people swimming in bitterly cold water of Kermits Pool most of them were young European tourists. The only way out is to backtrack so you get to see the spectacular sights all over again, what a bonus.

That night it began raining lightly as predicted and was still raining when we ventured out in our golf wet weather gear and spoke to the campground ranger (not a local) who informed us that very heavy rain was predicted to arrive late that night (about 50mm) so we decided that we would walk Dales Gorge then pack up and get out of there so we would not get flooded in. A few weeks prior the roads into and out of Karijini were closed and Dales campground was a swimming pool.

From the campground we walked along the gorge rim to Three Ways Lookout and Circular Pool Lookouts in the light rain which persisted all day. Then down into the gorge and around to Circular Pool which is surrounded by a circle of cliff face and is a peaceful pool lined by ferns and gentle water cascading from the rocks, the pool also has large ledges of rock just below the surface, it would be very refreshing to swim here in the heat of summer. The constant light rain meant that the gorge walls were a darker colour than when they are dry. The walk along the gorge is spectacular and requires you to cross the water way many times with only small rocks just below the water surface as stepping stones in some places. When we reached Fortescue Falls there was plenty of water cascading down the rocks into the pool below, this fall runs all year round. You then climb up alongside the falls and along to Fern Pool so named as it is surrounded by ferns. Very pretty area and
Port Samson - Honeymoon Cove 2Port Samson - Honeymoon Cove 2Port Samson - Honeymoon Cove 2

Can't imagine how much heat and pressure was required to twist rock into this shape.
you can swim in this large pool across to a small waterfall, the water here was surprisingly warm.

Back to the campground for a late lunch then we packed up and headed off about 4pm looking for dryer ground, we stopped at Bea Bea Rest area about 130Km from Karijini where it rained all night.

The gorges in Karijini are spectacular and well worth the effort to get here but like many places up the WA coast your experience is effected by the weather conditions and sadly the rain shortened our stay here, two days later we heard it was still raining here so we made the right decision to move on when we did.

Drove from Bea Bea rest area to Port Hedland (220Km) on 23rd June in light rain all the way and picked up the last set of landing legs on our way in. Stayed at the Racecourse Camp Area for 3 nights and spent the best part of 2 days installing the new legs which work perfectly. Another job well done by 'Kym the Toolman'.

Spent a day looking around Port Hedland which doesn't have a lot to offer as it's mainly a support town for the massive shipping port. Train after train rolls in full of iron ore to load onto the ships which are 330 meters long and have a dead weight of 260000 tonnes, in the heart of the port it opens up enough to turn these ships around. Port Hedland is one of the largest shipping ports in the world.

Left Port Hedland on 26th June and drove to 80 Mile Beach (254Km)

Its 9Km of dirt road into the caravan park situated on the beach, can't see the water from the park as there is a very low sand dune at the edge of the beach but you are only a couple of hundred meters from the water at high tide. They don't take bookings here just turn up and if no powered sites are available stay on an unpowered one for a night then move onto a powered site the next day which is yours for as long as you want to keep booking it, they are big spacious grassed sites . There is a massive turn over, in the morning about a third of the sites are empty and by nightfall they are all full again. A short walk over the sand dune and there is the beach mainly made of shells which stretches for 5Km in one direction and 20Km in the other and has a tide shift of up to 10 meters. Walk over at low tide and the water is hundreds of meters away in the distance with a handful of people walking around collecting shells. Walk over at high tide and there are hundreds of people spread all along the 25Km of beach fishing with the majority almost side by side directly in front of the park. Blue Nose Threadfin Salmon and Giant Threadfin Salmon are what they are after. There are a lot of people who come here every year for 4 months or longer to escape the southern winter complete with their quad bike or ATV so they can drive up and down the beach to their favourite fishing spot. There is a peak period for 2 hours before and after high tide when the beach and park are a hive of activity and then its peaceful and quite the rest of the time. We caught up with Jim and Pam who we had met at Carnarvon and Osprey Bay here and had a great time walking and fishing with them and of course the obligatory happy hour drinks. We walked along the beach each day collecting many different coloured and shaped shells along the way and managed to catch some Blue Nose Threadfin each day to provide us with a number of delicious meals which my talented wife cooked! Every day there was a few show offs at the fish cleaning station filleting their 1m plus Giant Threadfin. We had planned to spend 5 days here then move up the road to Barn Hill Station which many people had recommended, it is also on the beach. We were having such a relaxing time here we ended up staying the whole 10 days before heading to Broome.

Left 80 Mile Beach on 5th July and drove to Broome (370Km) which is extremely popular and especially busy in July and early August. As usual we didn't book any accommodation for Broome until a few weeks before hand so we were booked into the Broome Caravan Park from 5th to 24th July and then moved to Palm Grove Caravan Park from 24th July to 5th Aug.

Broome Caravan Park is about 7Km from town just off the main road into town hence it's not a pleasant place to ride our bikes so we made the decision to do the tourist things that require the car while we were there and then enjoy the walks and rides around Cable Beach when we moved to Palm Grove.

The first night in Broome we visited Ian and Mandy at the Cable Beach Caravan Park and ended up staying for homemade pizzas.

Drove out to Willie Creek Pearl Farm for the tour and an education in how pearls are produced and what qualities to look for when buying pearls. From Broome north to Cygnet Bay is famous for producing the finest quality south sea pearls. It takes 2 years for a salt water oyster to produce one pearl and each oyster is only good for a maximum of 4 pearls in its life time, but usually only 2 or 3.

In the shop at the end of the tour the guide picks out one lucky lady to wear a string of pearls worth $35000 and Caroline was that lucky lady and of course they both looked stunning, LUCKY for me I had left the credit card at the van so the pearls were left at the shop.

Broome has a very nice 18 hole all green golf course, we played in the 9 hole comp on Friday with Ian and Mandy which was their last day in Broome and had planned to have a meal at the Surf Club afterwards. The Surf Club was closed for a private function so Ian led us to the Broome Fishing Club which had been recommended to him. Turns out it was the opening night for the annual Bill Fishing Comp with a smorgasbord dinner which was delicious. It was a very entertaining night as they held the draw for the Calcutta and then the Auction itself with large sums being paid for each boat it made our Tenterfield Calcutta look very tame indeed.

We have been to the Saturday markets and walked from the Jetty to Jetty, visited the Japanese Cemetery for the hundreds of Japanese Divers who have lost their lives diving for pearls.

Spent a day in Dampier St visiting all the pearl shops and art galleries.

Caroline found a very nice pearl ring at one of the shops and as luck would have it my credit card was with me this time so it now adorns her finger.

We have been to Gantheaume Point to see the amazing coloured rock formations and found one of the 120 million year old Dinosaur footprints only visible when the tide is below 2.16m there are more prints that are visible when the tide is low enough but we will not be here when that happens.

We have been to the Deep Port and walked along the beach in both directions.

Caught up with Alan and Lyn who we met at Coral Bay and played in the Tuesday Comp with Alan.

On 21st July we went to Town Beach with Alan and Lyn to see the Staircase to the Moon an event which occurs once a month at low tide on a full moon. As the moon rises above the horizon the beam of light shines across the ripples in the mud flats at low tide creating bright lines which give the effect of a staircase leading out to the moon. Beautiful to watch if you are in the right place when it occurs.

About 15Km out of town is a Mango Farm with a café which serves all sorts of mango drinks and smoothies along with wood fired pizzas, the special is a Chango which has mango, mustard and mozzarella cheese, Caroline loved it. On the way back we drove in to the bird observatory where during the right season 10s of thousands of migratory birds nest and feed in Roebuck Bay. Not many birds to be seen now but did watch a local walking through knee deep mud in the mangroves with a wire hook looking for mud crabs and his mates netting for bait fish.

The Speedway was on Saturday night so along with Alan we walked the 500m to the track and pulled up a bar stool next to the fence for an entertaining night.

24th July we moved to Palm Grove Caravan Park which is located a short walk from Cable Beach it's a very nice park with only 2 spots we can fit on. Here we have spent our days walking along the pristine Cable Beach, riding our bikes into town or the shops, having a very relaxing time watching sensational sun sets over the ocean.

26th July we were up at sparrows and out the front of the park at 5.30am waiting for the bus to pick us up for our Horizontal Falls adventure. We arrived at the airport and were guided into groups ready to board our Sea Plane, Caroline was instructed to board first and was placed in the co-pilot's seat because she had the shortest legs, first time being short has been advantageous so she had amazing views from the front seat. The flight is about an hour to the falls with the first 45 min being very flat boring country below but the all of a sudden there a green rolling hills and deep gorges surrounded by water as we crossed over King George Sound and into Talbot Bay. The fly over the falls was spectacular but the best was yet to come. We landed on the water and taxied up to the floating pontoon unloaded and went upstairs for a briefing and coffee, juice etc, the views from here were stunning. Into the fast boat which has 3 x 300HP motors and of to the falls we go, turn around the cliff face and there is the first fall which is a gap in the ranges of about 20 meters wide with the water level about a meter above us and flowing towards us on the outgoing tide. The skipper takes the boat up close to the fall and explains how it occurs and then backs of about 50m and makes a run towards and through the fall at speed out the other side then heads over to the second fall which is only about 10m wide and the water level is about 3 meters above us. He explains that it is too dangerous to attempt a pass at this level. We edge up close to the fall and marvel at the amount and speed of the water forcing its way through this gap. We back off and head back through the wider fall in the opposite direction and then edge up into the middle of the fall where he holds the boat still for a while against the flow he is holding 11 knots (20Km/Hr) to keep the boat stationary.

We made numerous passes through the wider fall and visited the narrow fall a number of times then it was back to the pontoon for a bacon and egg roll for breakfast. Following breakfast they feed the resident Tawny Sharks alongside the shark/croc proof cage which you can climb into. Then it was back in the boat for a ride down Cyclone Creek to view the stunning scenery and rock formations, even spotted a small salt water crocodile basking on the bank, then back to the falls for a few more passes before dropping off the half day trippers for their flight back to Broome. We spent more time in the boat making many passes as the tide continued to stream out of the bay. The difference in level at the narrow fall had not changed much so it was still too dangerous to attempt. How does it occur you may ask, well once the tide has reach its highest peak for the day the water level in Talbot Bay and the two bodies of water above the gaps in the ranges are equal for a very short period of time then as the tide begins to subside in Talbot bay the water in the first body of water above the 20m gap starts to flow through the gap but cannot subside as quickly as the massive bay creating a difference in level and hence the appearance of a fall, the water drains from the first body of water at twice the rate it can from the second body of water as it only has a 10m gap to pass through creating a larger difference in level and a larger fall effect and a massive amount of turbulence and eddie currents for about 100m beyond the fall. This is repeated every six hours changing the direction of the fall as the tide goes in or out, the tides here can vary up to about 10 meters hence the massive amounts of water flowing in and out of the bay.

Back to the pontoon and into the sea plane again for our flight to One Arm Point flying over the hundreds of islands in the Buccaneer Archipelago. At One Arm Point we visited a fish hatchery run by the local community and then travelled to Cape Leveque for a Barramundi lunch at the Kooljaman Café before heading down to the beach with its beautiful white sands and aqua water and red cliffs leading right down to the beach a pristine and spectacular location. Remember the QANTAS advert with the children's choir standing on top of the red rock cliffs singing “I still call Australia home” well you have seen part of Cape Leveque.

From here we travelled to Beagle Bay Aboriginal Community to see the Sacred Heart Catholic Church built by German Monks during the war, it was based on a photo of a German church and the interior is lined with shells and mother of pearl gathered by the monks and locals.

From here it was a very rough 90Km ride back to Broome in the 4wd bus arriving back at the caravan park at 5.45pm. A very long and very expensive day trip but worth every single cent if you are over here it is an absolute must do, you will love it.

We have loved the constant 32 degree days here in Broome with cooler nights and have relaxed here to be ready for our next lot of adventures and sightseeing coming up.

Today ( 5th Aug) we travelled to Derby (221Km) where we have booked for 3 nights at this stage and then make our way across to Fitzroy Crossing.

It has been a year since we left Brisbane on this incredible adventure and if you are on Caroline's Facebook you will have seen these facts but for the rest here they are –

We have travelled a total of 24080 Km and 12639 Km of that was with the 5th wheeler faithfully following along behind us.
We have stayed at 51 different caravan parks and campsites some overnight and some for weeks.
Played 28 different golf courses some very well and some very poorly.
Met some amazing people and made a number of new friends.
Visited 100s of breathtaking sites and attractions in this amazingly diverse country we call home and we have only scratched the surface.

Looking forward to many more years of this fantastic lifestyle and recommend that anyone contemplating travelling this country to get out there and do it now.

Hope this finds you all fit, well and enjoying life

Kym and Caroline


Additional photos below
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Karijini - Hancock Gorge 2Karijini - Hancock Gorge 2
Karijini - Hancock Gorge 2

Had to walk through this thigh deep bitterly cold water.
Karijini - Hancock Gorge 3Karijini - Hancock Gorge 3
Karijini - Hancock Gorge 3

Need to swim through this chest deep water or climb along the narrow ledge on the right.
Karijini - Hancock Gorge - Beyond Kermits PoolKarijini - Hancock Gorge - Beyond Kermits Pool
Karijini - Hancock Gorge - Beyond Kermits Pool

Pools beyond Kermits requires abseiling equipment to access these


16th August 2016

Hi KimSome friends of ours have just returned from a trip up to where you are. They were going the opposite direction and came from Kununarra and Fitzroy Crossing direction. Went into Karijini NP just after the rains you were talking about.
would have gone with them if wasn't at the critical stages off finishing building the new home. You certainly have done some Kms and had a great time. You are nearly home again - even though it may take you another 6 mths I guess. Just in time or the O'Keefe annual golf trip!!!Cheers mate and continue with the excellent blogs

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