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12 Carnarvon and Denham (Shark Bay World Heritage Park)

semi-overcast 21 °C

17th July
We departed Exmouth for Coral Bay, a journey that would involve retracing our steps back to the North Coast Highway, however, we decided to stop at the fisheries shop enroute to restock on the prawns!
The journey was quite uneventful and so we arrived at Coral Bay for the one night. We managed to get setup in time for a quick ride around the few sights there, and then Maureen, Brian and Mary decided to watch the fish feeding ‘show’ at the nearby beach. I didn’t bother as I had spent many hours feeding fish, who didn’t respond to my bait enough to actually get caught! The weather was windy and overcast and so we decided that as the weather on Sunday was more of the same to head on south to Carnarvon. It was a pity as, on a warm sunny day, there was plenty of snorkelling available on the Ningaloo Reef that came very close to the shore.

The peaceful evening was broken by a bunch of alcohol affected old chooks cackling away until very late, and another van had a crying baby, so departure was eagerly looked forward to the next morning!

18th July
Off we set with the intention of having a free site stop that night, but, when we reached it it was open to every wind and dust-storm, so we decided to make straight for Carnarvon.
The trip was normal with long flat roads that never seemed to end and familiar shrubby landscape, punctuated with quite strong cross-winds again.

We decided to then try for the Point Quobba cheap van site but, as it was very exposed to the strong winds decided against that also. However, we did take a few photos of the very interesting blow hole that resulted from the big waves and wind that day. Very spectacular indeed! We then headed up a dirt road and found a memorial to the HMAS Sydney’s sinking in 1942 by the German raider ‘Kormorant’. The 600+ crew on the Sydney perished and many German seamen also that fateful day. This is not the ‘official’ memorial that is further south near Geraldton but one raised by private groups.

Another significant salt works lay along the way, as we journey back along the side road to rejoin the highway.
We arrived in Carnarvon to find that our chosen (but not booked) van site was full! A quick U-turn and we managed to obtain the last two sites at the Carnarvon Big4 Plantation Village CP. It didn’t take us long to get set up and ready for a break.
During the night we were ‘serenaded’ by a rooster from the property next door!

19th July
A slightly late start before we headed back up the road to check out the famous fresh vegetable farms in the district, located on the banks of the 764 Km long Gascoyne River. A real curiosity of the Gascoyne River is that, as we drove over the bridge approaching the town, we observed that the river bed had no water flowing through it. Apparently the dry season river flows underground to the nearby sea.

Anyway, we looked at one or two possible vegetable places and finally decided on one we had seen featured on a caravan DVD a while ago. The Bumback family have done serious market research and now had a very tidy and professional business running. We bought a range of real farm-fresh vegetables at prices way below Woolworths or Coles, and the quality was superb. I bought a mango smoothie that was the best that I have ever had!
We then checked out one or two other properties for ‘missing’ vegetables but couldn’t find what we needed.
A quick trip to see the old OTC NASA tracking dish, now in retirement was interesting.

I drove us all down to the famous ‘one-mile long jetty’ that juts way out into the ocean. No sooner had we arrived and checked for the next trip of the ‘coffee train’ than we were told that stronger winds had arrived that made the trip unsafe. So we headed back to town to buy some urgent medical supplies for Brian. Mary managed to spend $35 on one small item that we needed, but justified the many other purchases by noting the special bargain prices valid that day!

As the weather continued bleak we headed home after a hot coffee at the coffee shop and spent the night quietly. Some light rain fell during the night, but it did not stop our friendly rooster from challenging his rival down the road very frequently!

20th July
The light rain ceased fairly soon after daylight leaving us with a windy and cool day that gradually cleared. My email and a follow-up phone call to Avan in Melbourne about our van electrics system brought the usual big business zero response.
Brian and Maureen, keen to ensure that they had the ‘coffee pot’ train ride on the jetty headed off early to catch the first run. We managed to get there in time for the 1100 trip in a cold breeze. Quite interesting on this famous old jetty built about 1897 to export sheep and other farm produce.
The adjacent Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage in the historical precinct also had some interesting material. Chief of the exhibits was a most unusual chain pump that was used to bring water to the surface for the stock to drink.
Back home for lunch and time to upload the hundreds of photos and create new folders to keep track of everything!
Slept infrequently - thank you Mr Rooster!

21st July
Mary & I headed for the Woolworth store for fresh supplies and the bank to pay for them. Not much else that afternoon as we all just put our feet up and read books or just rested.

22nd July
Our usual journey with cross-winds and scrubby trees along the lengthy journey to Denham in the World Heritage Shark Bay park. We did see a number of emus and many feral goats. Apparently the feral goats not only eat up the grass that is destined for the local sheep, but cause erosion because of the appetites. The feral goats are worth $60 alive or $35 dead – so it would be a worthwhile business for the right person as there are certainly many goats along the highway.

We nearly suffered the same mishap as Brian a few days previously, when we came unexpectedly upon a flock of galahs feeding on the road. Several toots on the car horn managed to avoid a major road-kill event. As we neared Denham, our destination, we came through endless boring scrubby trees to finally see some spectacular sea views. We pulled in at one beautiful spot and unpacked the table and chairs, got out the lunch box and lay back enjoying a priceless view! Not every day brings such joy, but they are diamonds among the many stones. I saw a rare white-wing wren among the bushes, which was exciting. Meanwhile certain others went searching for shells – again.
We checked in and after some shuffling of sites for us we were allocated two beachfront sites. Or so we thought, however, after I had set us up on our million dollar view site the park manager came along and insisted that we were in a no-site area reserved for the daily rubbish collection truck. Very unhappily we resited the van behind some trees that at least provided some shelter from the wind. In doing the moving I managed to back into an obscured tree branch and ding a couple of spots on the back of the car. Not happy Jan!

We then all went on a beach walk to calm down. A beautiful sunset again in the most westerly town in Australia helped to make this a very pleasant spot to be.
Unfortunately our cooker (not the cook!) hadn’t functioned properly so that meal was postponed for 24 hours and we had hot soup instead.

23rd July
Managed to book in two sites in Kalbarri for next stop, however, everywhere was full or almost, but finally successful. Brian then drove us out to the Francois Peron National Park, however, we managed to get some great photos along the way of Little Lagoon. We arrived at the Peron Homestead after a dusty dirt road trip of about 4km. A very interesting place with old shearing sheds, a historical display, a hot pool (40C) and numerous other fascinating items to see. We decided to take lunch a bit early as we had missed our morning tea break (life is so hard when you are travelling) and set up in a nice shelter to eat. Brian decided to rest his legs in the hot pool to help with the discomfort in his left leg.

He returned to our table to advise that there was an adult emu with several chicks walking towards a close by pool of water. We turned to see a number of adult emus, and then a large emu with some chicks come to drink. The adult emu with the chicks then became very aggressive with another adult and the dust flew as they settled the score. Soon after we noted several more adult emus come to the pool to drink, and after they had moved off two adult emus came, and one walked into the pond until only its neck and head were above water! Never had anyone present seen this phenomenon before. Soon the other emu joined and they were almost sinking from view before they rose up and shook themselves several times before again becoming almost submerged. One of the emus then lay on its back and started splashing its legs around, looking just like a backstroke swimmer. Everyone present looked on in astonishment at these antics.

We finished lunch and looked at the rest of the exhibits before heading towards Monkey Mia. As we travelled down the dirt road Brian suddenly jammed on the brakes and called out ‘snake!’ There, beside us and moving quickly up the bank was a venomous red-bellied black snake. As we stopped to take a photo, a ‘cowboy’ in a 4WD flew past us in a cloud of dust and ran over the snakes tail, fortunately for the snake the road was deep in dust and so no apparent damage occurred. We managed to get a couple of quick snaps before angry snake disappeared into the brush.

The road to Monkey Mia was fairly boring and when we got to the entrance we were confronted with a $6 entry fee. We managed to confuse the lady taking the fee that we were on a very quick visit and it was already too late to see their primary feature, the dolphins. We got in for free, had an ice-cream, a look around, and as we leaving in the car we saw several dolphins just a few meters away swimming peacefully away.

Sadly, the day ended on a very sad note with a phone call advising us of the death of Mary's 96 year old aunt in England.

Posted by psstevo 05:14 Archived in Australia

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