Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 14 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Kalbarri – Geraldton – Bush camp – Perth
Kilometres          16992 – 17948 km

From the outset of this week the first thing we’ve noticed is how much cooler the days and more so the nights have become. Granted we’re traveling south and its only early spring, but the wind is a constant factor every day now and one night this week we’ve had an overnight low of 10deg. We no longer look for van parks with a pool or ones on the coastline because of the weather.
Natures Window - Kalbarri
Monday was our only full day in Kalbarri and being a popular school holiday destination we were awake early as eager fishermen headed off and then kids yelled and played outside our van, but that’s life and we were soon off exploring the local sights. The Kalbarri NP is a popular destination and we spent most our day exploring different spots within the park. The Murchison River cuts a deep gorge through the park and the “Natures Window” is a very popular photographic spot. By late afternoon we were happy we’d seen enough of the area deciding that we’d move further south the next day.
Pink Lake
Once again it was a start to Tuesday but since we were heading off today it didn’t really matter being up early. For the first time in a very long time the countryside had changed significantly. Gone was the arid flat boring landscape, we were now driving through the Mid-West region now with its rolling hills and endless crops of wheat and barley. At one point we stopped near Port Gregory to see the pink lakes which is something to do with bacteria reacting with the salt water. Of course Sam wanted to know what other colours were available….. By lunchtime we’d arrived in Geraldton and were soon setting up camp. We spent much of the afternoon doing domestic chores and restocking the cupboards as it’d been a while since we’d a supermarket the size of woollies. As night fell so did the temperature and it was here that we had our coldest night in some time.
The kids playing in the rain
We all managed to have a sleep-in on Wednesday which was a pleasant change. The kids crammed a few days’ worth of schoolwork into a few hours before we headed out to see what Geraldton had to offer. The colourful lighthouse, HMAS Sydney II memorial and the marina/port were among a few places we visited. The kids also spied the harbour foreshore playground and waterpark so we couldn’t go past without stopping.  Returning to the van late in the day we were hoping to see the blood moon eclipse but the clouds had rolled in ensuring we couldn’t even see a thing.….. Oh well!
Geraldton Lighthouse
The inclement weather continued into Thursday, to the point that we got our first heavy rain while being setup in the van. The kids thought it was great and immediately got out their umbrellas so they could play in the rain. I’m sure others in the park thought the kids were crazy, but the rain didn’t last long and in less than an hour the sun was out baking us once again…. We headed out soon after for coffee and a catch-up with some caching friends we’d met a few years back…. By the afternoon our day had taken a cultural twist, we took the kids to the Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum. The Art Gallery sucked us in as they advertised “LEGO” with the words “City collection” directly underneath. We thought this would be a nice exhibit for the kids, but it turned out to be a play on words and we were soon out of there. Meanwhile the Maritime Museum was very interesting with a great display on the Dutch ship “Batavia” which sunk off the Geraldton the 16 hundreds and a very moving tribute/display about HMAS Sydney II which was only found a years back off the Geraldton coast. We finished our day with a bit of therapy for all – caching and shopping.
HMAS Sydney II Memorial - Geraldton
Friday was moving day but with only a short distance to travel we didn’t pack up with any great urgency. We took the coastal road heading south with our likely destination being somewhere near the Pinnacles or Cervantes. The drive was one of those highly rated, very picturesque, coastal roads that hug the shoreline. We went through some great little sleepy holiday towns with plenty of  them being worthy of an overnight stay but the kids were super keen for some more bush camping before we got into Perth so we pressed on till we got to the Pinnacles. These amazing rocks seemingly spring from nowhere and certainly not where I expected. I thought they were a desert feature, not something that’s only a few kms from the coast. We explored the beauty of the Pinnacles before heading inland to find a suitable free camping spot. It didn’t take long before we found a nice isolated spot where we had a nice night in the bush around the campfire.
The Pinnacles
We had a beautiful night under the stars, the kids were constantly asking us to impart some of our bush stories and adventures onto them….. Our eagerness to get into Perth had us on the road by mid-morning. It didn’t take us long before we started to hit the urban sprawl of Perth. The immediate influx of traffic congestion, traffic management devices and population density was a formidable concept after being in a rural environment for so long. Thankfully the Navman soon had us at our preferred caravan park and we’d quickly setup home for the next 2 weeks. We spent the remainder of the afternoon lazing about the van with a beverage in our hand.
Bush camping in the middle of nowhere
Our first day in Perth was a pretty relaxing one, we spent much of our day by the van. The kids played in the park, jumping on the huge pillow or swimming in one of the multiple pools at the van park. We did get out in the afternoon to get some groceries and a bit of geocaching, oh and I did get to watch a bit (a lot) of the Bathurst car racing.

Till next week


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