Tom Price to Kalbarri

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September 5th 2015
Published: September 6th 2015
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Wednesday 26th August

A driving day and a long one. We set off at 8.30 and soon pass Paraburdoo, the last place we see for 270K.. At 1pm we stop for lunch at the Nantutarra Roadhouse. It's famous for being the most expensive roadhouse in Western Australia. Fortunately we don't need anything.

The scenery has been like driving across Dartmoor for 4 hours solid. Only bush to see and straight roads for miles. It's pretty boring.

Only another two and a half hours driving and we turn off for our campsite for the night at Bullara Station. A working cattle station with a good write up in our book. I've driven about 300 miles, a record.

After booking in we find it very rustic to say the least. Not quite what we were expecting and no tour of the Station as stated in our book.

Nevertheless it has a certain charm with an open roof shower and water heated by a wood burning stove.

At sunset everyone sits around a camp fire and chat whilst having a drink and we get served damper. A kind of bushmans bread baked in a billie can. It tastes fine but I wouldn't want to try swimming afterwards as its very heavy!

Thursday 27th

We arrive in Exmouth and drop in to Tourist Info for leaflets on trips out to the Ningaloo Reef in Cape Range NP. A special spot for marine life.

After reserving two nights at the Yardie Homestead caravan park we have a look around Exmouth township. It's a lot smaller than we were expecting but we manage to get a few things. Particularly something for the sandfly bites which are still causing a problem.

We then drive out of town heading for the caravan park and NP. Our first stop is the Vlamingh Head lighthouse. There's no access into it but from the hill we look out over the coast and see three Humpback whales playing just off shore. They're slapping their fins into the water making a huge splash. This goes on for about twenty minutes before we decide to drive further down the coast.

We drive into the NP and stop at Mangrove Bay and have a look although the tide's a long way out. Nearby is a bird hide but there's nothing to see.

So it's back to the caravan park and book in. After paying for a powered site I'm told we can't use any electrical appliances ! So I tell the women that the power's no good to us and I'll have a non powered one! The site's not very good but is close to the NP.

In the afternoon we book a site on line in the NP for Saturday.

Late afternoon we drive out to Jurabi Point so that I can choose a fishing spot for the morning.

Then it's back to camp for a sunset beer before settling down for another early night. At least it's light until 6.30 now!

Friday 28th August

Up at 6.50 and after a quick cup of tea we drive straight to the beach for me to catch the incoming tide for fishing. Christine brings me my breakfast on the beach as I keep an eye on my line.

But two hours later all I have to remember are the two that I only partially hooked and got away!

So back to the campsite for a quick wash and brush up before heading into the Park. We stop at the Visitors' centre and hire snorkeling gear.

Then a short drive to Turquoise Bay where the marine life is best to see. After donning our finns, masks and snorkels we wade out into the sea and catch our breath at the temperature of the water at first. We soon get used to the refreshing feel!

We float around and see a number of fish large and small but not a huge quantity. It's a bit disappointing.

After drying off and a short sunbathe we have lunch and then drive around the point to an area with more coral.

The current's stronger here and we have to drift along with it as we snorkel. It's much better though as we see huge brown and blue fish and lots of very colourful ones. There's also sea slugs and some colourful coral, although not a lot. Cold and shivering we beach ourselves after nearly an hour and remove the gear. Time to warm up in the sun before we leave.

Mid afternoon we return our equipment to the Centre and return to site for a warm shower and lots of soapy water to get rid of the salt.

Saturday 29th August

A lazy start to the day before we drive into the Cape Range NP and stop at Mandu Mandu Gorge for a 3K walk. First we walk along the dry river bed before climbing up the left side to the top. The Gorge is ok but not that special.

We then walk back along the top of the cliffs and get spectacular views of the coastline. They are really great views of the different colour bays and coral reefs below the water.

Then it's a drive to the very end of the Park at Yardie Creek. We arrive just in time for the 12.30 boat cruise up the creek.

The operator points out Black Footed Rock Wallabies sitting on the Gorge sides. They're much smaller than normal wallabies.

Next we get to see two Ospreys sitting on a nest with two youngsters. The nest is over a 100 years old and is reused most years.

We also see Egrets and small Herons. It's a very pleasant cruise and lasts about an hour.

Then it's off to Osprey Bay where we are bush camping for the night. Just a long drop toilet for our convenience! Our pitch backs onto the beach and is a lovely spot.

We have a walk along the beach and see two dolphins swimming just off shore. We walk along watching them diving for fish and surfacing from time to time. A real treat.

Later I get chatting to a chap a few doors away about fishing tomorrow off the beach and mention that I only have a small telescopic rod. An hour later he comes to our van and offers me his spare rod and reel ! He evens gives me some different bait to try.

At sunset we go over to the seats on the top of the beach to watch the sun go down and talk to two other couples doing the same thing. It's a good sunset with the sky turning many shades of orange.

Sunday 30th August

I'm up at 7.30 and after leaving Christine in bed with a cup of tea, I go to the beach to fish. The women next to me quickly catches one but i'm still looking for my first bite.

At 8.30 Christine comes down and tells me to wade in and cast out further. I immediately catch one! Perhaps I should leave her to do the fishing.

It's a Long Tom. About 2' 6'' long and thin with lots of teeth. As we both pose for a photo it bites through my line and I then let it go. No further action and so we leave site at 10.

On the way back to Exmouth we stop at the SS Mildura wreck. The boat's about 100 yards off shore but we can't see much of it due to the high tide.

After stopping at Exmouth for elevenses we set off for Coral Bay. Unbelievably it RAINS! This last for about half an hour and clears up by the time we reach our destination.

The first camp is fully booked, the first time this has happened to us. Luckily the second site is not quite full and we get an unpowered site for the night.

We go off and book a boat tour for tomorrow and then have a walk along the beach. The beach is wonderfully sandy and we see some huge fish just off shore.

Monday 31st August

At 9am we pull off site to wait for a powered site for later and call in at the Ticket Office to collect our gear for our boat tour. We're going to swim with manta rays.

Soon on the boat with four others and we sale out to near the inner reef for snorkeling. The winds quite strong and the sea fairly choppy. We see huge Emperor fish and many others. Unfortunately we can't stop in for long as it's just too choppy.

We set off in search of manta rays and the boat boy tells us that we won't be able to swim with them as the current is too strong due to the wind. We go searching and after 30 mins we spot one about 2 feet down but it's gone in 2 secs. Christine misses it.

We search around for nearly an hour but although there are supposed to be 300 of them, we see no more. The strong wind had disturbed the water too much.

The captain decides to go whale searching and eventually we see two or three humpback whales breaking the surface.

We then set out for the turtle area and again eventually see a few desperately breaking the surface in the big waves for air.

It's then lunch and after we cruise for a while and then stop at another snorkeling spot. We're all fairly cold with the strong wind but go in again. There are quite a few fish but none of us can stay in for longer than 15 mins because of the cold.

We then return to shore an hour early.

It's been the most disappointing trip we have ever had.The company knew that we were unlikely to be able to snorkel or see very much because of the strong wind and big waves but still took our money for the trip. I tell them this when we return but get no response.

Later we go to the beach to watch the fish feeding but it's the same fish we saw yesterday on our own! A really disappointing day all round.

Tuesday 1st September

Our drive this morning is through more bush and pretty boring. The only highlight is when I have to stop to allow an emu and her 6 chicks to cross the road in front of me. Nearing our over night stop we suddenly have fields each side with crops! Banana, corn and fruit trees.

After about two and a half hours we're on the out skirts of Carnarvon and turn off for the OTC Dish Space & Technology Museum. It's a small museum set up beside the decommisioned space tracking centre used by NASA for their manned and unmanned space trips. The only tracking centre in the southern hemisphere.

It's a really interesting museum and has equipment from the tracking centre and films of the space program, particularly Apollo 11, the first landing on the moon. It all looks so old and out of date. Like something from WW11 !

They have a space capsule simulator which we enter and get blasted off from the launch pad. It's great! Gives you a real feel for what is would have been like.

We then carry on into Carnavon and park at a campsite. It's got the best facilities we've ever had.

We walk into town, it's small, and then wander along the river bank looking at the boats and new houses. We come across a Heritage timber bridge and walk over it.

Late afternoon we collect the van and drive out to the harbour where we see the fishing fleet moored up. It's a big commercial fishing area.

Back at the campsite we change into our jeans and jumpers for the first time. It's a very windy day and quite cold. A sign of things to come as we move south.

In the evening we walk into town and eat out at a pub. Our first meal out in 6 weeks.

Wednesday 2nd September

A lazy start to the day as we're not driving off today. Eventually we drive round to One Mile Jetty and Heritage Precinct and look at the train museum which also contains info on mamouth sheep shearing achievements. Some shearers in the past have shawn 450 sheep in a day. Others in teams of 8 have done nearly 2,000 in a 3 days! There are pictures of these man mountains doing the work.

Next we pop across to the lighthouse and the keepers cottage and talk to the daughter of one the lighthouse keepers and learn that the job had been in the family for 4 generations. The house is made of tin with an outside bathroom. She's really interesting to listen to.

The light was lit every day by hand and also the warning light at the end of the pier.

We then walk along the jetty which is a mile long and was built in the 1800's to accommodate many large ships taking on wool, sheep and cattle. It was last used in 1966 and has been restored but still has a few holes and rotten planks.

It's been an interesting morning and we drive off to the Aboriginal Cultural centre which has a good write up in our book. Unfortunately we find it closed and so with nothing else to do we go stock up our provisions.

I pop down to the Visitors Centre to find out when the Culutral centre will be open and I am told it closed 4 months ago as the aboriginals didn't know how to run it. A bit of a shame.

We decide to drive out to Pelican Point for our picnic but have to sit in the van as it's blowing a gale. We briefly watch a kite surfer zooming across the bay in the gale. He takes off a few times.

With nothing else to do for the day we return to site and sit around the pool out of the wind until it's time for showers and dinner.

Thursday 3rd September

A drive of nearly 3 hours and although flat we start to see many colorful wild flowers. Eventually we reach Hamlin Pool and walk down to the the beach to see the stromatolites. They are 3000 years old and are organic mats which originally formed life on earth some 3,500 million years ago. There's a board walk out to see them.

They sounded amazing in our book but to be honest they look like flat tarmac pads. They're probably exciting to marine biologists but to most people they're pretty boring!

We continue along the beach and reach shell block quarry. An area where cockle shells have settled over thousands of years and consolidated so much that in the 1800's people cut them into blocks and built houses out of them. They're a little interesting.

The next thing we reach is the Hamlin Pool Telegraph Station. Built in 1884 and used up to the 1950's. We can only see the outside of the tin building.

We drive on and reach Shell Beach. It's huge and again made out of consolidated cockle shells over 9M deep. There's not a sole to be see for miles.

Setting off again we reach Denham our intended stop for the night. We phone a company and book a boat tour for the morning hoping it will be better than the last one!

Denham's much smaller than expected and so we decide to drive onto Monkey Mia where the boat leaves from in the morning.

We can only get an unpowered spot for the night and when we go to park up we find that it's on the camp road beside a green. Everyone's doing the same and it's no really a campsite at all.

I leave Christine to have a look around while I head to the beach with my rod. She pops over after half an hour and I've already caught two and she sees me land a third. Later I catch another but unfortunately they're all small. Still waiting for the monster.

Dinner is in the camp kitchen for once, out of the chilly night air.

Friday 4th September

Up fairly early and we stroll along to the beach to watch the feeding of Indio Pacific Bottle Nosed Dolphins. They don't turn up till nearly 9am and we watch three of them be fed.

We then wait on the jetty for our cruise and at 10 another three Dolphins turn up and are fed again.

At 10.30 we board our boat and are taken to a pearl farm to see how they are produced. It's the same as we saw at Willie Creek but it's part of the tour so we tag along.

Afterwards we set sail for the open sea and soon see more dolphins as they fish. We spend quite a while looking at them. We then see dolphins with sponges in their mouths which they use to flush out hiding fish. This is the only place in the world where dolphins act like this, and it is only the females that do this. The sponges are hard to see.

We then set off in search of Dugongs. A strange animal which is a bit like a seal with a walrus like mouth. It eats sea grass which is abundant in Monkey Mia. The area has one of the largest population of them. We see two or three of them. We also see a few very large Loggerhead turtles.

It's been a good cruise and certainly much better than our last one.

We get back around lunchtime and spend the rest of the afternoon sitting on the beach where we see a number of dolphins in the shallows swimming up and down.

At 4 I go and try my luck again at fishing. I manage 7 fish, a record number but again too small to shout about.

Saturday 5th September

We are woken in the night by the sound of rain on the roof and a few people scurring around putting things under cover. In the morning we have grey skies for the first time ever.

A few minutes drive back into Denham but we can't find an ATM so we set off for the day. Our first stop is half an hour down the road at the Ocean Park Aquarium. We have to wait a few minutes until it opens and then they explain that we get a guided tour from a marine biologist.

We go around the various tanks showing sea snakes, puffer fish, stone fish and lots more and get a great explanation from the chap. He makes it really interesting and then takes us to the shark pool where he teases them with a fish. They are very powerful creatures and the guide tells us that only 3 types of sharks are actually dangerous and these aren't them. However these look pretty frightening!

After a coffee we set off again for another half an hour before pulling onto a dirt road leading to Eagles Bluff. It's an area where the water is really shallow and you can see all the marine life, except there isn't any.

It's now just a driving day as we set off around 11am. Along the roadside we have lots of colourful wild flowers and then four hours later the scenery suddenly changes from general scrub to cultivated fields.

We pull into a road side rest area and consider staying for the night as it's a very attractive area beside the river however the number of flies puts us off.

Eventually after 5 hours of driving we arrive in Kalbarri. It's a lovely seaside township with a really pretty bay and coastline and a welcome stop!

Sunday 6th September

First thing we drive into town and find an ATM to top up our cash reserve. Then it's a drive back along the highway until we turn off for Kalbarri NP. The first 12K is on tarmac but the following is on sand and dirt. It's a bit bumpy but the main thing is to miss the holes!

We drive to the Z Bend Lookout and get great views of the Murchinson River Gorge. It's really pretty because of all the wild flowers. We then set off for the 2.6K return Z Bend River Trail. It's hard going as we have to rock climb down into the Gorge and use 3 sets of ladders. The view at the bottom is nice as there is water flowing in the river and the sandstone cliffs look spectacular.

After resting up we climb back out. The sun's starting to get really hot and we're pleased to get back to the van for a drink.

It's then only 11K to the other end of the Gorge and the Nature's Window, a lookout. Again we get wonderful views of the Gorge and river where it forms a big Z bend. There's a rock formation with a big hole through it, a natural photo opportunity!

After we make the short drive to the West Loop Lookout for more views of the Gorge.

The number of areas accessable in Kalbarri NP are not that many but it's one of the best we've been to.

We then drive back through town and out the other side to stop off at a few coastal viewing spots.

The first is Jakes Bay. Here we see huge waves breaking over the rocks and surfers and kite surfers riding them. They must be mad!

Coming back towards town we stop at lay by and walk to the memorial for the Dutch ship Zuytdorp. It was shipwrecked in 1712 off the coast and it is belived that some of the survivors may have integrated with the local Aboriginals.They were never found.

Then it's back to the campsite to prepare for a Skype call from Carol & David. We give then a visual tour of our van. They seem impressed with the Lilliput size. Later we get a call from John. It's a busy night!

Additional photos below
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6th September 2015

Can never think what to put as a title, so as I'm thinking about my Italian class resuming soon, ciao sprang to mind! Glad to hear that the fishing is going a bit better now, though the Long Tom looked very strange. We're enjoying seeing all the wildlife photos, the birds look great and we are envious of the boat trips (some of them), can you put comments on something like Trip Advisor when things don't go well? Likewise with the camp sites, there seem to be big differences between them, but then the same is true here. The only wildlife excitement here has been seeing a Jay in the garden, they only appear very rarely. We've had a hectic couple of days for us, weeks go by and nothing happens then everything happens at once- visitors, seeing a new baby, going to a wedding! We're not used to so much toing and froing, but it has all been very enjoyable. Hope you don't run into too much rain, I expect you've already heard that it is very autumnal here now- at least the sun shone today! Safe journeys, Kim
7th September 2015

It's difficult
Yes the headings are! The poor boat trip should never have gone out because of the weather, that's what I complained about. We don't normally have much luck with wildlife sighting anyway! It's getting colder by the day as we head towards Perth. Hoping to buy an extra blanket today!! Thanks for responding, we love to hear from friends. S &C

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