Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 13 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Coral Bay – Carnarvon – Denham – Kalbarri
Kilometres          15514 – 16992 km

It was the Queen’s Birthday long weekend here in WA so come Monday morning the Coral Bay caravan park started to resemble a ghost town as many people, us included packed up and headed for home or for our next destination. We were heading to Carnarvon but not before we’d said goodbye to some fellow traveling friends. Sam and Eliza had become really close friends and had both vowed to catch up again further down the coast…. The run down to Carnarvon once again highlighted the huge arid land we live in. The rolling plains seem endless, the creeks and rivers have no water, livestock graze by the roads and you constantly see caravans and road-trains traveling the roads. Our one highlight of the day was crossing the “Tropic of Capricorn” for the umpteenth time. By lunch time we’d arrived in Carnarvon and had found a home for the next few days. The first thing you notice in Carnarvon is the huge satellite tracking dish which stands out for miles…. As most things were shut because of the public holiday the rest of our day was spent grocery shopping and washing about 8000km worth of dirt off the car.
Carnarvon Satellite Tracking Dish
On Tuesday we went in search of a few local attractions, our first stop was the huge OTC satellite dish. This facility played an integral part in tracking the Apollo XI Moon landing and was last used to track the Skylab project. Today it’s a museum offering a glimpse of early space exploration…. By late afternoon we came to realise that Carnarvon doesn’t have a whole lot to offer the tourist and we could have moved on after 2 nights. We capped off our day with a nice sunset walk out along the “one mile jetty”.
1 Mile Jetty - Carnarvon
As we’d already paid for our 3 nights in Carnarvon we had a lazy morning on Wednesday. The kids caught up on some necessary schoolwork while we did a few loads of washing. By late morning we decided to take a drive out to a place called Quobba. This remote area of the WA coastline is infamous for its blowholes and killer waves that have tragically taken many unsuspecting people. With rugged cliffs and monstrous waves it was easy to see how people’s lives are lost here. The blowholes were spectacular with water spouts coming out of the rocks up to 25m high. Not far from here we stopped at a memorial for the HMAS Sydney II which was sunk near here killing 645 crewmen.
Quobba Blowholes
Thursday was moving day and once again the scenery didn’t offer much, the kids quickly became acquainted with their iPads while Leonie starred out the window. After turning off at the town of Overlander, the scenery quickly changed as we headed towards Monkey Mia. This area is World Heritage listed for its beauty and it was easy to see why. We stopped at Hamelin Pool where we saw some amazing underwater rocks called Stromatolities. The waters had a beautiful turquoise colour with distinct patches of dark blue running through it. By mid-afternoon we’d arrived in the windy coastal town of Denham where we setup camp for the next few days. This small town provides the gateway to the Monkey Mia dolphin feeding experience at a much more affordable price.
Samantha feeding the Dolphin
Friday started at a ridiculous hour of the day for us, we were keen to be part of the Dolphin experience and thus didn’t want to be late for the first session. We weren’t sure what to expect as its changed so much over recent years. As it turned out we were among 300 people who were at the water’s edge to experience the Dolphins. About 12 Dolphins came close to the shoreline but only the mothering females (5) are fed. Samantha was lucky enough to be chosen to feed a Dolphin one fish, an experience she’ll remember for a lifetime. With the feeding over we had a short look around Monkey Mia before heading back into Denham where we’d booked an adventure quad bike tour. This was something Ethan had written on his bucket-list before leaving home so you can imagine the excitement he was feeling as we took off on our 3-hour tour around Denham. The quads were a lot of fun as we explored the sand dunes and bush tracks reaching speeds of 70km/hr. By the time we returned Ethan and Sam were adamant we’d be getting quad bikes when we got home, oh and a pet Dolphin for Sam….. Reflecting on the day we’d had as we lazed around the van late in the day, the kids both agreed that it’d been the best day of their trip so far. To complete the perfect day we headed out to Denham Lookout on sunset where we watched a beautiful sunset over the Indian Ocean.
Waiting to be fed 
As Saturday dawned the kids were still talking of their respective thrills they’d had the previous day. For us, we headed back out to Monkey Mia again to be a part of the Dolphin experience again. This time we hung around for 2 feeding sessions and bit more time soaking up the relaxed atmosphere as we sat and looked out across the turquoise water. Heading back to Denham we detoured via the Francois National Park where we explored the Peron Homestead and Big Lagoon which are part of the peninsula….. By late afternoon Sam’s friend Eliza and her family had arrived in town and with Sam eager to catch up with Eliza we headed out with a few other families for a beautiful BBQ dinner by the lake. It was well after dark before we returned to the van.
Budding riders
Sunday saw us on the road again as we headed for Kalbarri. For the first time dark clouds loomed overhead and the constant wind seemed to blow more intensely. We hadn’t long left Denham when our 3 month run of dry weather came to an end and for the next couple of hrs we drove through heavy showers. However each time we stopped, either for lunch or at the Cockle Shell beach so did the rain…. By the time we’d driven into Kalbarri the rain had passed and we were thankful to setup in the dry. Fortunately we have TV reception and were able to finish the week watching the NRL grandfinal.
The girls really enjoyed themselves
The weather has been a real mixed bag over the past week. We’ve certainly noticed the temperatures cooling down, especially overnight from those we experienced in northern WA, while the wind which seems relentless is apparently common for this time of year in this region and there’s today’s rain. So our dream run of beautiful weather is looking a little shakey as we head further south.

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