News History: 28 May 2013 - 16 April 2013:
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28 May 2013
Three days on the road and we are 1,800 kms / 1,000 miles
nearer to Cairns, but still about 1,200 kms / 700 miles to
go. Its a long way!
We called in at the famous Daly Waters pub in the
Northern Territory on Sunday and then stayed at the Banka
Banka Station (cattle farm). The pub had some fantastic
things left behind by previous customers.
From Banka Banka, we drove south and had a quick look at
Tennant Creek, an aboriginal town, but we didn't find it
quite as bad as some people had warned us. It was then a
long drive out of the Northern Territory and in to
On arriving in Queensland, you are warned to put your
clocks forward 5 years and 30 minutes, though the speed
limit drops from 130 km/h to 110 km/h, so things are
obviously slower in Queensland!
An overnight stop at the Camooweal Roadhouse and then on
to Mount Isa. It was just a quick stop there for more
supplies as they have good supermarkets and fuel. But no
pork pies could be found. Mount Isa itself a big mining
town, so there wasn't really anything new for us to look at.
We've now driven up the rather remote Burke Development
Road and are staying at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse.
Daly Waters Pub
Burke & Wills Roadhouse Caravan 'Park'
25 May 2013
We spent the day looking around Katherine and stocking up
on supplies before the big push to Cairns. The museum was
interesting in Katherine, especially the history of the
Russians that were originally brought in to build the
railway later trying to farm peanuts.
Peanut Inspection Belt (couldn't find the Garlate
24 May 2013
Two great days in Kakadu National Park, though the
humidity and the millions of mosquitoes have been rather
unpleasant. We visited here last September on a weekend away
from Sydney, so there really wasn't anything new for us to
see, but it was interesting looking at the difference in the
landscape between now (start of the dry season) and
September (end of the dry season). The aboriginal rock art
is stunning in Kakadu.
We came back down to Katherine via Edith Falls, which are
pretty, but not as spectacular as they used to be before the
big wet season in 2011 washed away a lot of the rock cliffs
that the water used to tumble down.
Where to from here? We've been trying to decided
where to go to now from Katherine. We have considered
driving 1,300 kms/850 miles south to Alice Springs and then
on to Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon. This would then mean
coming back 1,200 kms/800 miles to Tennant Creek before we
can head across to Queensland. As we've already been to
Ayers Rock, we've now decided against this. We are 'just'
going to ahead over to Queensland coast and up to Cairns.
This is a drive of 3,000 kms / 1,800 miles from here with
very little in between again. Think I better change the oil
again before we leave Katherine!
Some of the Rock Art in Kakadu
Swimming at Edith Falls
22 May 2013
Today, we are leaving Litchfield National Park and
driving out to Kakadu. We went to Kakadu last September, so
we are looking forward to going back and having more time
there. On the way, we will pass through the funnily named
town of Humpty Doo. Famous for its pub, but I don't think it
will be open when we pass through.
This means we are now heading south from Darwin, a bit
sad really - almost like we have turned to start the final
leg of the trip.
Nice Caravan Park at Litchfield
The Big Croc at Humpty Doo
21 May 2013
We had to get up very early because the registration
(road tax in UK) is due soon on the campervan and we had to
get safety inspection done (MOT in UK) by somebody certified
in the Northern Territory. We could perhaps have waited
until Queensland time wise, but their inspections are much
tougher, so better to get it done before we left Darwin.
Anyway, the guy that we found and his backstreet garage only
did inspections between 7AM - 8AM (i.e. under cover of
darkness!) Needless to say the old camper passed with flying
colours and we now have the inspection certificate ready to
send off to the NSW Roads Dept. once we get to Katherine.
We continued the day by driving to Lichfield National
Park. Once we got about 70 kms/50 miles in to the park, I
thought we had an issue with a front wheel bearing. Its a
long story, but on Monday, we had a new tyre put on the
right-hand side wheel in Darwin. Firstly, the tyre fitters
(who also offered mechanical repairs) tried to rip me off by
quoting and charging for a Michelin, but fitting some
rubbish make. I spotted it before we left and got them to
change it. They also said that the front wheel bearings
needed changing, which I said I very much doubted as I had
only done them just before we started the trip 7 months ago!
There was a little bit of movement in the bearings, but as
they are double taper roller, you need that to allow for the
heat expansion after heavy braking.
Anyway, what I think they had done was to pull off the
cover that is over the split pin and castle nut on the wheel
hub and put it loosely inside the Toyota wheel trim. (To get
it off normally needs a hammer and chisel, so it hadn't just
fell off). Therefore when you drive slowly its loose and
creates a rattling noise from the wheel. Out in
Litchfield, I heard this noise and wrongly concluded that we
did have a wheel bearing problem. I decided to turn around
and drive back to the nearest town. I wasn't too concerned
as although we where in a very remote area, I do have a new
spare bearing assembly with me, that would have been a pain
to fit in this heat, but at least we wouldn't be stranded.
Once we got to the town, I quickly realised that it was the
loose cover making the noise at that the bearing are fine.
Naughty tyre shop, I think.
After the 140 kms round trip to confirm the bearing was
OK, back out at Litchfield it was a very beautiful place.
The freshwater waterfalls and swimming holes are just
magnificent and a really nice way to cool off as the heat
and humidity is almost unbearable. The park rangers do their
best to keep crocodiles out of the the swimming areas, so
you are pretty safe to swim. We stayed the night at the very
nice Litchfield Tourist Park, just outside the National Park
boundary. Considering some of the bad caravan parks that we
have had, its worth noting that this one was very good and
they only charged $20 for an unpowered site.
Swimming at Litchfield
More Waterfalls at Litchfield...
20 May 2013
There was no sign of our fridge being ready at the
repairers in the morning, so we went and visited the Darwin
aircraft museum. It really is excellently done and has some
great displays - even an American B52 bomber! There was a
good range of other things like old civilian and military
aircraft, displays on the WWII bombing of Darwin and the
Australian's involvement in Vietnam.
We had good news in the afternoon - the parts had a
arrived for the fridge and it was fixed, so we went and
picked it up and then for our weekly shop to stock it back
up. The guys seem to have done a great job on the fridge and
the new power supply they fitted is certainly more modern
and supposedly energy efficient. Cold beer again!
B52 Towers Over Everything
Aircraft Grave Yard (One on the right looks like an Aer
Lingus Shorts 360)
19 May 2013
We've had a great weekend in Darwin. The hotel was
perfect. In a great location near the lagoon, modern and
with fantastic air-conditioning. I probably took too much
advantage of the Happy Hour(s) at the Irish Pub on Friday
night, but its hard not to in 35° heat and $4.50 a pint!
On Saturday, we went down the old World War II fuel
storage tunnels that were built after Darwin was heavily
bombed by the Japanese in 1942, but the tunnels were never
actually used. They had been cut out of the solid rock
cliffs like long horizontal mine shafts and then steel
lined. Apparently it was all done 'by hand' so it must have
been quite a task.
On Saturday night, we ate at the Stokes Hill Wharf, which
is the old wharf shed out on the pier that has been
converted in to lots of cheap eateries with a shared dinning
area overlooking Darwin Harbour. Its quite fantastic and
really great that its low cost eating options so everyone
can enjoy. In Sydney or Melbourne these would all be high
class restaurants full of show-offs.
There was also an Italian Festival Day on on the
Parliament Lawns on Saturday with Italian food, beer, wine
and entertainment. We enjoyed a good hour round there.
On Sunday, we went in to the parliament building of the
Northern Territory, which is freely open to visitors. Its a
fine building with a real tropical colonial but modern feel.
Its also free and well air-conditioned for a break from the
We really like Darwin (we were here last September too)
it has a more friendly feel to it, everything is close
together and as yet hasn't been priced extortionately. If we
could cope with the heat, humidity and the long wet season,
it would be a place we could live.
Inside One of the Oil Storage Tunnels
The Italian Festival on the Parliament Lawns
View From Our Hotel Across the Wharf & Lagoon
17 May 2013
Yesterday, we decided to head straight to Darwin to try
to buy a new fridge, as we thought with ours being 16 years
old, it would be the best option. However, nobody in Darwin
has our style of fridge in stock. It uses a very efficient
compressor motor to allow it to run for long periods off the
battery, and although it doesn't have the option to run on
gas, its actually much more expensive than a three way
fridge as it turns out...probably around $1,700 -
£1,100 for a new one! However, we were
recommend a company that could fix ours and so we went to
see them. It looks like it is just the power supply board
that has gone and the compressor is OK, so they can get a
new board and fit it for $500. still a fair sum, but better
than the alternative. They were hoping to get it done for
this afternoon, but at the time of writing this, they
haven't called yet, so lets hope for Monday.
So we've made our way to Darwin. We
have decided to stay in a city centre hotel tonight and
tomorrow night because its nice to get a break in a proper
bed, have air-conditioning and to give us a good base to
explore the city. Today, we went to the old jail in Darwin
that closed about 20 years ago. It was interesting to see
how it was quite open and different in design to what we
have seen elsewhere. I guess this mainly comes from trying
to confine people in tropical heat and humidity.
Inside the Prison
Prison Ablutions Block
15 May 2013
We spent the night at a nice caravan site in Katherine.
As we need to come back down this way after Darwin, we
decided to just have a quick look at the Katherine Gorge
National Park today and then do the other things in the area
on the way back down.
The Katherine Gorge area was nice and we went on a long
walk up to some of the lookouts, but to see the main gorge
you need to go on quite expensive boat trips. As we've
already seen plenty of other gorges over the last month or
so, we've decide to give the boat tours here a miss.
We drove north from Katherine, detouring to the old World
War II airstrip at a place called Fenton. It was used for
the heavy American bombers that were based in the area. You
could just let yourself in and look around, there wasn't any
buildings left, but the runway is very good condition
considering it was last used 70 years ago, and there's a few
old aircraft parts around the fields.
In the evening we set ourselves up a at a lovely
designated free camp at a place called Robin Falls. We were
a bit surprised to find ourselves the only ones camping
there and we prefer not to be like this at these remote
spots - safety in numbers! But it looked right enough.
Anyway, just after dark a big four-wheel drive pulled up in
the adjacent camping bay full of drunk Aboriginals. Luckily,
I don't think they realised we were there. They put on some
very loud music and started drinking, we sensed there would
be trouble and so we threw everything in the campervan,
pulled the roof down and shot out to the main road. As we
got there, another load were just arriving.
It wasn't too far to drive in to the village of Adelaide
River, where we were able to stay on a proper caravan site.
However, in our haste to move, some how the tap in the sink
has come on whilst we were driving and with the plug being
in the sink, it has overflowed down the back of the fridge
and blown the fridge up. Aaahhh not what we want in 34°C
No Swimming Today
The Start of Katherine Gorge
Old Runway at Fenton
The Camp Five Minutes Before the Aborigines Arrived
13 May 2013
We've had a couple of nights in Kununurra and a day out
to Wyndham - about the furthest north town in Western
Australia. Saturday night was good in Kununurra as there was
an open air concert on in the town with a range of
aboriginal singers and dancers, but the headline act of
The drive out on Sunday to Wyndham was good as there's an
excellent lookout over five major rivers and some really
spectacular boab trees. We have seen the boabs for about the
last 300kms and they really are unusual and interesting
Today, after filling up our cupboards at the Coles
supermarket in Kununurra, we drove out to the massive Lake
Argyll and its dam. From there we have left Weston Australia
behind and crossed the boarder in to the Northern Territory.
We are just going to free camp tonight at a roadside stop.
There's already a few caravaners here and providing there's
no troublemakers come later, it should be a good night for
We've enjoyed our time in Western Australia, we would
have stayed longer if the weather had been better when we
started out down in Esperance and Albany. We've seen some
fantastic things - Bungle Bungles, Ningaloo Reef, Esperance
beaches, the huge Karri trees of the south-western corner,
Margret River and Perth itself. We've met some lovely
people, but also seen a quite selfish, aggressive and
self-important nature to many of the people we have
encountered in the later stages. Whether this comes from a
bit of an arrogance from the mining incomes, the need to
make every moment count when they get out of the mining
camps without regard for others or something else, I don't
know, I'm not a psychiatrist! But its certainly a (not
particular pleasant) nature and
a way of behaving that we have not encountered anywhere else
Boab Tree in Wyndham
From the Wyndham Lookout
Bye-bye Western Australia
10 May 2013
The Bungle Bungles - Purnululu National Park
What a fabulous day we have had! We woke at 6AM to get
ready to be picked up by off-road bus at 7AM to take us in
to the Bungle Bungles. The Bungle Bungles are the most
amazing rock formations way out the the Kimberley region of
Weston Australia. They where only discovered by the outside
world in 1983, so that gives you an idea just how remote
they are. The rock was formed about 360 million years ago
and is sandstone, but of different colours caused by
bacteria colouring some parts of the rock black. At the
southern end of the the range, the hills have worn away to
create fantastic dome shapes and a huge gorge (Cathedral
Gorge). At the northern end, the weathering is different and
here there are shear chasms (Echidna Chasm is the most
The bus took two hours to get in to the park entrance
from the caravan site, along a very rough unsealed road that
included about seven creek crossings. From the park entrance
it was another half hour drive south to the domes area,
where we were given morning tea before setting off on the
walk to the lookout, through the domes and on to the massive
Cathedral Gorge. We returned to the bus about 12.30 and were
provided with a nice lunch. Then we drove about an hour to
the Echidna Chasm. It took a good 40 minutes to walk in to
the Chasm as the floor is a very loose dry river bed. The
effort as worth it. The height of the chasm walls and
tightness of the gap at the bottom was one of the most
wonderful things we have ever seen.
We left the Chasm about 3PM and it took about 2 hours to
drive back to the caravan site, where we had a bushman's
supper consisting of soup, damper bread and a stew washed
down with a few beers. It truly was one of the most
spectacular things we have ever seen in the world and are so
glad we made the effort to go.
There is a full album of the photos here.
I have tried to give you an idea of just how big and deep
the gorge and chasm are by uploading a video to
YouTube that you can watch by
following this link.
The Bus to the Bungle Bungles
9 May 2013
We left Broome at 7.00AM yesterday morning to try to get
some of the drive done without the heat being too bad. By
1.00PM we had driven the 400 kms/240 miles to Fitzroy
Crossing, where we checked in to a caravan site...the wrong
one as it later turned out compared to where we actually
wanted to stay, it was a bit rough but it was alright in the
end for one night. We drove out of town in to the Geikie
Gorge National Park area, where the rangers run a boat tour
to see the rock gorges from the water. With the heat (though
the humidity has dropped considerably) and the good price of
$30 each for the hour's tour, we decided to go on it.
The boat tour was very good. The cliff rock formations
were very tall and sculpted. Its hard to imagine that during
the wet season and up to just a few weeks ago, the water
runs through this part of the Fitzroy River up to where the
white stops on the rock - and often higher in flood events.
We also saw several small fresh water crocodiles and some
lovely birds, a couple of photos are below and
put a full album of the Geikie Gorge photo here.
Today, we have driven another 400 kms/240 miles out
through Halls Creek and on to the Bungle Bungles. Both
Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek are quite aboriginal areas
and with that brings alcohol problems and disorder. We
certainly locked the van when filling up with petrol! Lin
wanted to get some wine in Halls Creek. Cask/Box wine sales
have been restricted now since Port Hedland, because this
apparently is the main thing the aboriginals like to get
drunk on. Mostly that means no casks bigger than 2 litres
and only being offered for sale between 11AM - 2PM.
We couldn't find the bottle shop at Halls Creek, but I
saw one of the aboriginal locals walking down the road with
a crate of beer on his shoulders and he kindly gave me
directions. However, when we got there, we were disappointed
to find that the shop only sold light beer. It is illegal
for them to sell anything stronger than 2.7% alcohol to
anyone in this town. That's not good news. I just hope we
have enough beer and wine left to get us through the next
two/three nights as we hope we should be able to get some
when we get to Kununurra, the town almost on the boarder
with the Northern Territory. If not, I have a bottle of 12
year old Glenlivet Single Malt in reserve that might have to
Anyway, tomorrow we have paid out big time ($250 each!)
to do a full day tour in to the Bungle Bungles by 4x4
off-road truck/bus. Its probably the most expensive thing we
will do on this trip, but there is probably no chance that
we will ever come back to this area and its impossible to
fly in to from elsewhere in Australia, so we thought we
better get it off the Bucket List whilst we are here. By the
way, the Bungle Bungles are a unique range of honeycomb
shaped rocks that are supposed to be on a par with Ayres
Rock - so lets wait and see. I've wanted to go ever since
seeing Neighbours on TV in the 1980's when there was a
storyline about Helen Daniels going to the Bungle Bungles...
7 May 2013
We've had a good couple of day in Broome, but we will
probably move on tomorrow. There isn't a lot to do for
'free' in the way of entertainment. After visiting the beach
and a looking round the small town centre everything else is
really organised tours starting at $100 each for whatever
you want to do. There's plenty of them, camel rides,
seaplane trips, fishing charters, hovercraft rides, etc,
etc...if we were here on holiday, it would be great, but on
a budget they are a bit hard to justify.
The good news was that we got the new windscreen fitted
on the campervan this afternoon, no problem. It only took
about 20 minutes and as its not a glue bonded in screen, we
could drive again straight away.
Bad news for us is that the weather continues to be 38°C
in the day and 26°C at night with almost 100% humidity. We
can hardly cope and neither can the fridge in the campervan.
I think we will have to rethink our shopping with less fresh
food and more tins in the short term otherwise stuff will be
going off. Yesterday, I went to the barbers and got them to
shave my head to a number 2 all over to try to survive
Think We Will Leave Swimming For Today
Camels on Cable Beach
Sunset at Cable Beach
5 May 2013
From Karijini, we drove north back to the coast and the
dusty, busy mining export town of Port Headland. It was
pretty grimy and unpleasant, but we managed to get some food
supplies and I bought oil and an air filter to service the
campervan again. We stayed at the only 'touristy' caravan
park in town, as the others where all given over to mine
workers' accommodation. The site we stayed at was quite nice
but charged a whopping $54/night. Much higher than we have
ever paid anywhere!
We only stayed the one night in Port Hedland before
making the hot drive up the coast about 350 kms/220 miles to
Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park. Its a very remote area and
the only caravan park to make to an actual place name on a
map of Australia, such is the lack of anything else around
here. The only saving grace is that the road trains (huge
trucks) carrying the ore from the mines along the highway
appear to have stopped as we have got a bit further north.
However, on the drive up, a stray stone thrown up by a
large motorhome coming the other way hit our windscreen and
has put a nice big split right across it. So it looks like
we will have to get the screen replaced as soon as we can.
It was a nice stay at Eighty Mile Beach. The caravan site
was down a rough 10 kms/6 mile unsealed road, but when you
get there has lots of nice grass, shade, 24 hour electricity
from diesel generators and its just over a sand due to a
great fishing beach. Speaking of which, I finally caught
something big! I caught a black tip shark about 2 1/2 feet
or 0.75 metres long! Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera
with me and as Lin wouldn't have eaten it, we gave it away
to another angler, who said he thinks they are quite tasty.
We left Eighty Mile Beach early on Sunday morning to try
to beat the heat a bit on the drive. Its 38°C (100°F) during
the day at the moment and still about 24°C at night. Its
rather uncomfortable driving when you are sat on top of the
engine and the heat starts to come through! The
air-conditioning works well, but we try very hard not to
have it on as it takes so much power off the engine. The
camper engine itself is taking the heat very well. It
doesn't have an electronic fan on the radiator, rather a
mechanical belt drive off the water pump. However, it has a
fluid coupling that is supposed to increase the speed of the
fan as the engine gets hotter. It certainly seems to be
working very well. Never really going above 85°C. We can
monitor the temperature very well, as I fitted a digital
temperature gauge before we left Sydney, so we can see
exactly the engine temp, rather than relying on the standard
gauge that never move off the centre spot until its too
After five hours drive, broken by just one roadhouse
(petrol station) on the way, we arrived in Broome and
managed to get on to the Cable Beach Caravan Park no
problem. Though at $47/night its another one that's rather
above our budget. At the moment the site is quiet, but this
is another one that in a month's time will be completely
We are going to stay in Broome now for a few days and see
what there is to do. We especially want to see and/or go on
the famous camels on Cable Beach.
Road Train Filling Up and Sandfire Roadhouse. Only Three
Trailers, the Mine Ones Had Four!
Eighty Mile Beach
1 May 2013
We drove about 110 kms east of Tom Price out to Karijini
National Park. We bush camped here last night (no power or
water and just a shared long drop toilet) and are
staying again tonight. Karijini is famous for its
spectacular gorges cut through the red and at times almost
black ironstone rock. Unfortunately for us, we can really
only get to one area of the park as the roads are too rough
for our campervan to get to the others. But we have had a
great day walking the Fortescue Falls, Fern Pool and
Circular Pool gorge areas. Its probably the most spectacular
and impressive area that we have seen so far on the whole
The pretty tough walk down into the gorge took about 4
hours return, not including stopping off to swim in the
lovely freshwater pools and under the waterfalls. I think we
will sleep well tonight after the exercise! Speaking of
which, last night was quite a spectacular star filled sky as
there is no artificial light and the sky was completely
clear. We can tell we are sort of in the desert now, as the
temperature was 34°C during the day, but dropped to a very
chilly 12°C overnight and we had to get our big sleeping
bags out again.
I've put a
album of Karijini photos here
Looking Down in to Circular Pool - Notice The Swimmers At
Me, Disobeying the Warning Signs and Jumping in to the
Water at Circular Pool
The Gorge From On Top
We've Found Another Thing In Australia To Kill You
29 April 2013
Yesterday, we drove the 600 kms/420 miles or so from
Exmouth inland through to the Pilbara region and the iron
ore mining town of Tom Price. It was a pretty remote road,
we only passed one petrol station the whole drive. No
houses, shops or anything else. As we got near Tom Price,
the scenery turned quite hilly and then almost mountainous.
The earth is a most deep rice red colour. The town is named
after the American geologist who discovered the iron ore
deposited here in the 1960's. The town solely exists for the
Rio Tinto mine. Many of the workers live here, though there
are also a large number of contractors that fly in and fly
out. The town has a Coles supermarket (only grocery store in
town) that we can only think is subsidised in someway by the
mine operators, since the prices where the same as you would
pay in any normal Coles in the city....despite the food
having to be trucked or flown about 1,500 kms / 900 miles to
This morning, we went on a bus tour of the huge Rio Tinto
iron ore mine. It really was on an amazing scale. The tour
bus was allowed to go in to the mining area (which is open
cut) and drive alongside the huge dump trucks, weighing over
400 tonnes when fully loaded. We also got to drive around
the outside of the crushing and refining works, vehicle
repair bays and the train loading system. The trains are 2
1/2 kms long and each carry about $3.5M worth of iron ore to
be exported mainly to China.
I've put a full album of the
site photos here
400 Tonne Dump Truck
Just One of the Eight Or So Mining Areas at Tom Price
Conveyors to the Grading Shed
Train Loading - Each Train Carriage Below Has 138 Tonnes
27 April 2013
We arrived in Exmouth on ANZAC Day morning (25th April),
we wanted to find a pub or club playing the traditional
ANZAC Day betting game of Two Up. ANZAC Day being
Australia's sort of Remembrance Day. Its a bit different
than UK...its a public holiday with sombre memorial services
in the morning followed by having a drink or three to
remember the fallen in the afternoon At the third attempt
and a long walk around Exmouth we found an ex-services club
in full swing. In the end we had a great afternoon, with two
US servicemen involved at the near by solar observatory. We
needed the April 26th to recover!
Today, we drove out to the Cape Range National Park at
the northern part of Ningaloo Reef, via the Harold Holt
Naval Base and the huge USA Very Low Frequency radio
communications base. The base is used by the Americans to
communicate with their nuclear submarines and the reason
that Exmouth as a town exists. I think calling it the
'Harold Holt Naval' base is quite funny in away,
since Harold Holt was the Australian Prime Minister that
mysteriously drowned off a south Melbourne beach in the
1960's. His body was never found. There's also a swimming
pool in Melbourne named in his honour.
The National Park itself was very picturesque, though I
think we've been a bit spoilt with already seeing and
snorkelling the southern part of the reef, that there wasn't
really much new for us to see.
I think we will be glad to leave Exmouth tomorrow. Its
not the prettiest town and the caravan site is certainly not
worth the $48/night they are charging ($6/night more than we
have ever paid anywhere).
View from Cape Range Lighthouse
Gorge at the National Park
Termite Mounds Line The Road to Exmouth
24 April 2013
We've decided to extend our stay in Coral Bay by a couple
of days. Whilst the two caravan sites are extremely busy
with school holidays, for a change we have been very lucky
and got a nice quiet site on the edge of the park away from
all the screaming kids. Once they all go out to the beach
for the day, the park is very peaceful.
We spent the afternoon over at the beach ourselves
yesterday. I was snorkelling for about 3 hours. Its great to
walk along the beach, swim out about 30 metres and then just
float back on the current parallel to the beach looking at
all the huge coral and tropical fish. It really is
impressive, its hard coral rather than the soft coral that
you get on the Great Barrier Reef, some of it must be 3
metres high. The fish range from small electric blue shoals
to very large snapper. I haven't seen any sharks or turtles
yet, but they are around.
Last night it was 'Happy Hour' at the Ningaloo Reef
Resort, which is adjacent to our hotel. Jugs of beer were
(only!) $13 so it drew a good crowd. I tried to book a trip
out on a snorkelling boat to the outer reef today, but they
are all full. Maybe I can do it in Exmouth when we move on
Coral Bay Beach
I haven't got an underwater camera, but found these
pictures on the net from Coral Bay to give and idea of what
it looks like snorkelling...
22 April 2013
On Saturday morning we drove on from Carnarvon about 70
kms to Point Quobba. The road at first was the main highway,
then there is a branch off that leads the 50 kms or so to
the sea. Its an unusually good sealed road as it also leads
to the Rio Tinto Salt Mine. At Point Quobba, there is a bush
camp run by the local council with just long drop toilets,
no water or showers etc, but at just $5.50 a night and right
on the beach its a very good spot....that would be if it
hadn't been for the wind. Normally at night around here, the
sea breeze from during the day drops away, but for the two
nights we spent here it increased to what felt like gale
force! We had to try to sleep with the pop-top down, but
still it was impossible with the howling wind and constant
rocking of the van.
The saving grace was that the snorkelling was just
incredible. In front of the camping area is a fishing free
zone called 'The Aquarium'. Its only about 1 metre deep
right the way out and full of coral and the most amazing
reef fish, star fish, clams and all sorts of other things. A
bit further down the shore are the Quobba Blowholes, these
were in full force yesterday thanks to the high winds and
Today we drove on about 250 kms to Coral Bay - heart of
the Ningaloo Reef. On the way, we past over the line of the
Tropic of Capricorn, so I guess we can say we are in the
tropics now! We managed to get in a caravan park at Coral
Bay for two nights. Its very busy because its childrens'
school holidays. We are so glad that we stocked up with food
in Carnarvon as the price of the stuff in the 'supermarket'
here was just laughable; Pataks Curry Sauce $9.30 - normally
about $4, 1 litre long life milk $2.85 - normally $1, etc,
etc! The petrol is also pretty expensive around here now at
about $1.75 - $1.85 per litre.
Tropic of Capricorn
19 April 2013
Our second day in Monkey Mia turned out to be not that
great, the unpowered camp area had been completely over
booked and all the campervans ended up with less than 1.5
mtrs of space between them! That just really compounded our
feeling that the operators/owners have a long way to go to
get up to the standard of what a 'resort' should be.
On Tuesday, we moved on to Denham, filling up with
drinking water at the council desalination plant. It was
quite interesting, they had a special area for dispensing
not only desalinated, but also reverse osmosis water for
tourists! You put $1 in the pump and got 15 litres. It was
good to fill up the campervan's 50 litre water tank with
pure drinking water as many of the caravan sites recently
have only had bore water (tastes very salty) or still rather
salt desalinated water.
Denham itself wasn't much, but the family of emus walking
down the main street was cute to see and they also have the
most westerly pub in Australia. We already visited the most
southerly in Southport, Tasmania, so perhaps we need to try
to make all four corners.
The last three days have been spent in Carnarvon. The
town's main industry now is plantation with tropic fruits,
tomatoes and bananas, but its claim to fame is that it was
used extensively by NASA and later the European Space Agency
to track the Apollo missions, moon landings and satellite
launches. They have a collection of dishes and receivers up
on the hills at the back of town. There was also supposed to
be USA nuclear missile/submarine tracking and communications
stations here, but these have now gone.
They have just opened a little museum about the tracking
stations and the volunteers have obviously worked very hard
to make something out of it. One interesting thing they had
was a NASA mobile laser range and speed finder, that would
bounce laser off satellites to get tracing information.
(Just like current police laser speed cameras). But what was
fascinating was that it was really just as they left it.
Inside the control module, the drawers and cupboards were
still full of old valves and spare parts.
Emu Family in Denham
Campervan Under the OTC Dish
NASA Mobile Laser Range Finder
One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon
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