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Published: October 6th 2011
The last couple of weeks have been a journey south along the west coast of Australia. We’ve gone from flat calm and barely a ripple to strong SW winds and large on shore surf. Also from cloudless warm days to wet and cold. The first two stops – Exmouth and Coral Bay are the north and south ends of the Ningaloo Reef, which WA claims is as good as the Great Barrier Reef on the east coast. At Exmouth it was really too windy to get out to the reef proper, but the water is a beautiful turquoise. At Coral Bay we went out on a snorkeling trip and viewed the coral and swam with a manta ray, awesome.
It’s just been announced that Exmouth is to be a base for Rio Tinto staff working at a mine inland. Rio Tinto wants 400 extra workers. Given that the permanent population is only about 2,000 – imagine the building boom this will bring.
Carnarvon was touted as a place to buy veges & fruit on our way south as it has a large irrigated area. In reality it was one of the few areas that isn’t going through a boom
or about to start one.
Kalbarrie is a fairly wild place, good for surfing and brave fishermen as there’s a river mouth best described as having a bar like Tairua and having surf like on the west coast. It’s nearly 600km north of Perth. Beautiful, savage cliffs and beaches for miles.
We are now in Geraldton, where we are getting the car serviced. We’ve now done just over 21,000 km in nearly 7 months. Brisbane – Darwin – Geraldton direct is just over 7,000km, so we’ve done a lot of diversions. It rained and blew last night and was cold, so our life in shorts and t-shirts each and every day seems to be over.
In line with many other Australian coastal towns, Geraldton is expanding rapidly as they are re-starting a major iron ore export facility as new mines have been commissioned and old ones re-opened.
While we were in Karratha, Jacquie gave me a book by Peter Fitzsimons called “Batavia” about a shipwreck off the WA coast in 1628. It was a ship of the Dutch East India Company which itself was set up in 1602. It’s a combination of Fawlty Towers, Bligh’s epic
small boat voyage and the worst aspects of “Lord of the Flies”. The museum here in Geraldton has many relics from the wreck. It was news to me that the Dutch were trading with the Spice Islands, now Indonesia, 167 years before Cook mapped New Zealand.
We’ve run into the school holiday crowd – lots of small, noisy, energetic children, so will probably head inland soon.
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3 October 2011
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