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 The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #014

Editorial

Well we finally reach Perth, two-thirds of the way on our first trip "around the block". I lived here in the 70s but it's changed a bit, and my mid-80s UBD is a little off the mark at times, but in general we're finding our way around.

 

Photos
I've had a few emails of late along the lines of "How about more photos". As it happens this coincides with the fact that I've been taking a lot more photos lately.

So as they say in the classics, this is a bumper issue, with over 80 pics of everything from dead crabs to billion-year-old rock formations. I hope you like them.

While on the subject, I've recently purchased a Nikon 4000 ED scanner. The Nikon is miles better than my old scanner and the photos in this diary are looking better for it.

 

 

Mon 28 Oct 2002

We leave Osprey Bay today. At about 8AM I start the motor and soon after we vacate the site. Friends had dropped in a couple of days ago and indicated that they would be here first thing to grab our spot.

There's no sign of them as we leave so we ask another couple (who also know them) to place a chair or two in the site to mind it.

We spend the day in Exmouth, then hit the road and camp in a rest area 80k or down the road.

Tue 29 Oct

We didn't plan to go into Coral Bay but it's only 16k off the highway so we detour.

It's an idillic spot but very tourist oriented, there's two caravan parks ($27.50 per night!) and wall-to-wall booking offices for various reef/whale/turtle/whatever tours.


Ticket offices for every kind of tour.


The tour boats pull up on the beach right behind the main street

This is not a place for us, but we stay for a few hours anyway then return to the highway, heading for a rest area next to the Minilya roadhouse.

When we get there we find that it's been closed to camping, apparently at the request of the nearby roadhouse. I guess they figure that nobody would want to camp in a facility-free rest area when they can pay $17 across the road.

Wrong guys! I, and most other self-sufficient travellers, will not only just find somewhere else further down the road to sleep, but we won't buy anything from you at all.

Wed 30 Oct

Twenty kilometres out of Carnarvon we turn right and head to the Blowholes.


When the road reaches the coast there's a large sign at a T-intersection, take note of the warning. From here it's left to Blowholes, right to Red Bluff.


A loo with too much view. The lighthouse alerts passing mariners to the presence of the facilities, in case they get caught short. With the open door and elevated position said mariners can keep a watchful eye on their vessels

We quickly checkout the actual blowhole then drive just a few hundred yards south to Point Quobba. Here we find a couple of motorhomes, one who's occupants we know and the other with occupants we don't know (or so we think).

Continuing around the point we find one of the famous fishermen's shanty towns. These communities are all along the WA coast. Most were established decades ago when a few fishermen constructed simple lean-tos.

We keep driving and find that there are many camping spots along the coast, most of which are sheltered from the wind by sand dunes. However we return to camp near our friends.


Evening light on the campsite

We find very quickly that the couple from the second motorhome know my cousin and have also been following this web site.

Later, at happy hour, we also find out that the couple attended the teachers college where Chris was the Admin Manager, 14 years ago.

"Small world" as they say.

I have to say that this life-on-the-road lark is quite gruelling. Earlier I had been invited to have a drink with some other motorhomers who are camped around the point so, having just done my duty at one happy hour, I have to go to another.

When will the pace let up?

NOTE: Opened first bottle of home brew today, it's lovely, better that store bought, and only 1/6th the cost.

Thu 31 Oct

We went for an early walk across to the "island" this morning.


Early in the morning the rocks near our motorhome are saturated by salt spray.


The island just offshore can be easily reached over a oyster-encrusted rock causeway.

To get there you can either walk on top of the oyster-clad rocks or wade through the lagoon. In either case you see hundreds of brightly coloured tropical fish, clams, and coral as colourful as the fish.

On the island are terns and other seabirds, incredibly jagged rocks, pools full of sea anemones, crabs, and yet more fish.

After lunch I go to explore the shacks. What a fascinating assembly of shanties, outside loos, BBQs, fish-cleaning tables and assorted structures. For several hours I wander around the buildings photographing everything that catches my eye.



The shacks at Point Quobba

These days most of the shacks are still not much better than the original lean-tos. Many are just ATCO portable sheds with verandas built onto the side.

One however stands out from the crowd, with a wind generator, satellite TV and a fenced back yard, this has got to be the manor house of the Point Quobba shack community.

Most of these buildings are only occupied on weekends or during holidays but "The Manor" appears to have permanent occupants.

As the sun wested I sat in the lounge room with a beer, pleased with the day and glad to sit back and relax.

I lift my stubbie and take a swig. As I do so my eyes lift to the horizon and there, right above the red and green VB label (we make the home brew in 750ml bottles then decant into a VB stubbie), a whale is breaching, no more than a couple of hundred metres away.

Chris grabs the binoculars, I fumble with a long lens and run over the uneven rocks to the cliff.

For some time I photograph the whales as they jump from the water (no decent shots though as they're still too far away for a camera). As they recede I notice that the light on the rocks and waves is quite nice so I return to the truck for more equipment.

For nearly an hour I photograph the waves and the setting sun. Chris joins me as a "big wave spotter" as my concentration is firmly on compositions and exposures. I get close to the cliffs, often having to spin around to protect the camera from spray the instant the shutter fires.


As the sun sets I get some nice shots of the waves

When the last fraction of sun has gone I take another couple of images of the clouds then we call it a day and walk back to the truck.

Once again we relax. I crack open another beer. Mmmm, that's nice. I raise the footrest of my recliner and settle in to watch the sunset's after glow.

"WHALE!" cries Chris.

Fri 1 Nov

After a couple of days we decide it's time to have a close look at the blowhole. There are many small blowholes along the coast around here, but this one, with it's twenty-meter spume and voice like a steam engine on heat, is a real monster. Man that sucker can blow.


Two shots of the blowhole from far away. With people in the shot you get a good idea of the perspective.


This one is up close and personal. Taken from about 1 metre away with a 14mm lens. Definitely a case of shoot, turn, huddle over camera as fast as possible.


Just downwind of the blowhole the constant spray is eroding these rocks.


A photo of a person photographing a person videoing a person watching the waves. I wonder if there was anyone behind me?


Waves make interesting shapes as they swirl around the rocks near the blowhole

On our return we notice that hundreds of fish are caught in the pools formed by deep holes in the rock shelves. I guess these fish get washed up by waves and don't know how to get back to the ocean.


Amazing holes caused by wave motion and rocks. Note the large rock in the hole at centre front

At low tide the pools are connected by areas of shallow water, too shallow for the fish to swim normally, so they flip themselves by 90 degrees and swim sideways.

It's very comical to watch as they make a high-speed beeline for a particular pool, then swim around in circles for a while before making another dash, sometimes back to the pool they just came from.

We watch them for ages.

Later we both go down to the lagoon. This has to be one of Australia's best kept secrets.

Within metres of the road you can walk among coral that's bright purple, green, red, you name it. The fish will scurry away, the clams will spit at you (nothing personal I'm sure) and the anemones will wave their spines at you.



Various corals, anemone and clams, all easily viewed, and only metres from the road.


Check the spines in this fellow, you don't want to make an emeny of him.

You can see most of this without even getting your feet wet by strolling along the oyster causeway that links the island with the mainland. But for a more immersive experience (literally if you don't watch your step) get into the knee-high water and wander around.

It's just fantastic and it's totally free for day visitors while campers only pay $5 per site per night. There's no $200 tours and long boat trips, you just walk around.


With beer in one hand, and cable release in the other, I took these shots within minutes of each other from the same location, just facing different directions

As the sun sets Chris sees a green flash for just a second before the orb dips below the horizon. "Like a fluorescent halo" she describes it. I seem to remember that this is a well-known phenomenon, if you're into meteorological stuff maybe you can let me know.

Sat 2 Nov

For a couple of days we've seen enormous spumes from waves a kilometre up the coast, so today I ride down to check them out.

When I get there I find a spot where the rock shelf causes the waves to really excel in the vertical direction.


The waves literally explode when they hit the rocks at this point on the coast

Later I wander up to the blowhole then return to the spot where we saw the fish yesterday. They're still there so I find a comfortable spot and watch them.

From my vantage point, just two metres from the water's surface, I sit for an hour or so, intrigued by the beautiful creatures. They're so graceful and it's very peaceful to watch them. I can see why they say that a fish tank is good for those with high blood pressure.

Occasionally a large wave breaks over the shelf and the peaceful scene is replaced by a metre of white, frothing, turmoil that splashes my glasses and almost reaches into my hide. But when the chaos retreats the fish are still there, peaceful as ever, and apparently unaffected.


Fish float in one of the rock pools, no matter how tumultuous the wave, when the chaos retreats the fish are still here as though nothing happened

Sun 3 Nov

Went for a stroll before sunup.


Early morning at the blowhole

We had a fairly quiet day exploring the reef and doing some household chores. For example the solar panels needed cleaning and the black water tank emptying.

There is a dump point here, but it's a few hundred metres away so I assemble our bicycle trailer/wheel barrow and make a couple of trips.


Wothahellizat has a poo

I briefly wonder if other people here have full tanks, maybe there's a need for a poo removal service. I can just see me walking around campgrounds with my barrow yelling "Bring out your poo!, Bring out your poo!".

Mon 4 Nov

For some days now we've been watching the Ospreys fly to and from a nest high on the nearby Telstra tower. However every time I go over with a camera they disappear and are gone all day, only returning when it's too dark to photograph them.

Today was different, I see them in the nest but decide to have coffee, figuring that they'd be gone before I can get over there anyway.

After coffee they are still there but I'd wasted my time before, so I have breakfast.

After breakfast they are still there so I finally pick up a long lens and tripod and head off.

For nearly an hour I sit near the bottom of the tower photographing the birds as they come and go. On the return trips they carry a new piece of material for the nest and at least once they carried a piece away.


Returning with new material for the nest. You can just see the other bird's head

Another thing I notice is that several tiny birds are also nesting here. They seem to have set up camp in the lower reaches of the osprey's huge construction.

Just before lunch I walk along the rock ledge near the truck. There are many holes that would be small blow holes if the waves got this far.

These holes have weakened the undercut ledge and, in places, massive boulders have broken away and lie on their sides in the shallows.

It's on the side of these boulders that I think the mystery (to me at least) of the blowholes is solved.

Running down the side of the boulders, embedded in the limestone, are seams of conglomerate made up of hard pebbles mixed with, presumably, a softer rock.

These seams would easily erode to form a hole and, viola, a million years or so later you have a tourist attraction.

After chatting to neighbouring motorhomers I return to the truck to relax and build up my strength for happy hour.

I sit down, look around, and notice that the ospreys are once again in residence over at the Telstra tower. I grab my equipment and rush over.

I get one or two shots but there's nothing really happening. Before long one of them flies off then returns with a newly caught fish and lands on the solar panels.

I recognise the fish as one of the type that we were watching in the shallows a couple of days ago. It struggles but to no avail.

The poor fish continues to struggle and I can clearly see its eye staring straight at me (or so it seems) as the bird starts to eat it. Starting with the mouth, the osprey tears pieces from the unfortunate fish's face until there is nothing left but the eye, still staring at me.

As the eye is plucked from the fish by a hooked beak there is a final struggle and fish is still.

I'm very close to the bird but, apart from an occasional glance to check my position, it seems happy to tolerate my presence. However when a woman with two dogs approaches it flies off.

I feel that's the end of the session but then realise that it only flew a few hundred metres to the "Blowholes" sign, so I cart my equipment up there.


The osprey balanced on top of the "Blowholes" sign

I take another photo or two then realise I've only got one frame left on the film. The next shot will have to be a beauty, and I figure that I'll wait until it's finished and takes off.

Unfortunately I forget this resolution and fire the shutter when the bird loses balance and spreads its wings. Now what? It's about 500m back to the truck to get another film. Can I run back and return in time? Can I even run back? I'm not all that fit these days.

I go for it, arriving after what seems an eternity, with burning lungs and jelly legs. I grab a film and the motorbike keys.

On my return I fumble with loading the film and have almost got it done when a car pulls up. The bird bolts. I swear and generally stomp around, not really angry at the car as they couldn't have known, but my body language must have been enough as they reverse and depart.

The osprey returns to the solar panel and so do I. I take another couple of photos of the bird but when it also gets harassed by some seagulls I leave it in peace.


The osprey gets harassed by seagulls as it tries to finish it's fish dinner

Later, while sitting in the loungeroom, we see the osprey flying towards the truck. To our surprise it heaves to and hovers right in front of our window. For several seconds he holds steady in the headwind, looking at us as if to say "I know where you live", then he flies off.

Tue 5 Nov

Today I decide to have a quiet day, no rushing around looking for photographs, just sit and relax.

That lasted until just after lunch, when I decide to go for "a last walk along the rocks".

I return to the spot where we watched the fish the other day, and this time I find a new hideout only a couple of feet above the water. The fish see me though and scatter, so I wait, hoping that after the confusion of the next wave they will assume I'm part of the scenery.

This works but they're still very wary, just peering out from under the overhanging rock.


A fish cautiously peers from under the ledge I'm sitting on

Another wave comes and this time it's a big one. I just have time to stand up, spin around, and place my feet firmly, in a wide and stable stance, before it hits the rocks just below me.

"Safe" I think, but I hadn't reckoned on placing my feet each side of a crack in the rock. I was standing right on top of a mini blowhole

WHOOOSH, the wave hits the rocks, funnels under the shelf, and rushes up the crack and whacks me right between the big toes.

My unmentionables were totally drenched but luckily nothing important was affected, the camera was dry.

I head into the hills which, mercifully, are well out of reach of the waves.

I had wanted to photograph some crabs but the live ones are too wily and the wave experience reminds me of some crustaceans that aren't going to run away, they're dead, so I get some shots of them instead.


Dozens of crab shells are lined up on an old piece of fibro

Wed 6 Nov

We leave the Blowholes today and drive to Carnarvon to visit Andy & Heather, friends and fellow WORT (Weird Off Road Truck) owners.


Wothahellizat and Bear in Andy & Heather's drive

We stay with them for a few days while I catch up on some maintenance, Chris catches up on some washing, and we all catch up on some drinking with friends.

Sat 9 Nov

We drive down to Gladstone, a camping spot south of Carnarvon. It's fun to have two WORTs driving together, hopefully one day we can organise a larger convoy.


There's no water from here to Geraldton

Gladstone is just a "locality", there's nothing here except a campsite and the remains of an old jetty.

Sun 10 Nov

The day is mostly spent servicing the house batteries. It's been a few months since I've performed this task and I'm sorry to report that they are in bad shape.


The two motorhomes camped at Gladstone.


Birds on the disused jetty.

The wind is fierce at present, it's just a mild inconvenience to us in the truck (I can't comfortably sit on the deck for example) but for regular campers it's a real pain.

Mon 11 Nov

Heather and Andy return to Carnarvon today, it's back to work for them I'm afraid, still, in a few months they'll be on the road as well. We've had a marvellous few days in their company and haven't laughed so much in years.

We decide to stay another day.

Tue 12 Nov

On leaving the campground we encounter a fellow at one of the gates. He's just been down south but has come back because the wind is too bad. As we're heading south, that doesn't sound good.

While on the corrugated dirt track to the highway we get sick of the rough ride, so decide to skip Monkey Mia for the time being and drive straight to Geraldton to have our front springs looked at, and hopefully fixed.

As we drive it's interesting to see the terrain change. For months now we've seen nothing but low scrub, now we actually start to see some trees, real trees too, not the stunted shrubs common in the dry north west. Before long we also enter a landscape of rolling hills, wheat fields and grazing sheep. This makes for a pleasant change although I find myself having to change gears a lot more than I'm used to.


The rolling hills, sheep and cultivated land make a pleasant change after months in the north.

While driving we see a yellow MAN 6x6 coming the opposite way and I wonder if it's the one we were looking for in Wyndham. As they get near we see that the entire family appears to be in the front seat, and they're all waving.

We wave back and I get on the CB. Yes it's them, and they've heard about us as well. They're going back north for a while then returning to Fremantle so we promise to have a beer somewhere. As to where, well who knows, we'll just have to trust that we stumble upon each other again.

On entering the outskirts of Geraldton we turn into the industrial area and drive to Twomeys, an engineering firm who, we've been told, really know their stuff when is comes to springs.

Here we meet Uwe, Twomeys' spring expert, he looks at the truck's front, rubs his chin and reckons he can fix it but "Not until next week". We book in for the following Tuesday and drive into town.

After a few hours browsing we drive out to Ellendale Pool, a great campsite about 50k from town. If we have to wait a few days it may as well be somewhere nice.

There's a caravan and two motorhomes already in residence when we arrive, two of which we know as we've camped with them before. Happy hour is in full swing so we join in.

Wed 13 Nov

For four days we stay at the pools, generally just vegging out, although I did walk up to the top of the cliff that overlooks the campsite.

It's a short, steepish walk and well worth the effort. At the top you find fields of wheat stretching for miles, coming to a sudden end just a few metres from the cliff face.

Looking over the cliff you can see the campground and the Greenough River, way below.


Looking over the campground from the cliff top

You can also see the Peregrine Falcons that nest on the cliff. While we were there some young falcons were learning to fly. On the first day they are making short hops between rocks, but by the day we leave they are soaring with the updrafts and seem to have got the hang of it.

What a fantastic feeling that must be, to go from gangly earthbound chick, to graceful falcon, in a few days.


Camped at Ellendale Pool.


The Greenough River and cliff.


Small lizard on tree near the campground

Mon 18 Nov

After an early start we leave Ellendale Pool and return to Geraldton. Once again we park near the marina and spend the day in, and around, town. The new museum is currently showing the British Gas Wildlife photography exhibition and we spend some time looking at the photos. Great stuff.

The museum also has an interesting display telling the story of the Batavia, a Dutch ship that foundered of the coast in the 1600s, and the ensuing massacre.

It's too windy and a bit obvious to camp in the car park, so we drive around the foreshore looking for a spot. There's "no camping" signs and caravan parks everywhere, and we're just about to head for the industrial area when we spot some old foundations and flat tree-lined areas. It looks good so we turn in.

I immediately think that the area has the appearance of a disused caravan park. Chris consults the map and, sure enough, there is one marked at this position.

We settle in for the night.

Tue 19 Nov

We pull into Twomeys at about 9AM but they have had a delay with an existing job so we have to wait a few hours. No matter, I've got both an air leak, and a fuel leak, to look into.

The air leak is just a loose connection and it's fixed in a few minutes.

The fuel leak is coming from the engine's lift pump, I tighten the mounting bolts but it still leaks. Closer inspection reveals that the diesel is actually leaking from the body of the pump. Bugger!

It will have to come off but not before we are safely ensconced in the workshop, and immobile for a day or so anyway.

By early afternoon the workshop is clear and we move the truck in. Uwe jacks the truck up and takes various measurements, then helps me put the chassis safely on stands. I'll be doing most of the grunt work and he "doesn't want me to get squashed", already we have something in common, I don't want me to get squashed either.

The hangers and pins are in very good condition, some pins even pushing out by hand, so by late afternoon I've got everything dismantled and call it a day.


Wothahellizat up on stands inside the Twomeys workshop

Wed 20 Nov

Early start today to remove the lift pump and get it around to a diesel mechanic. Right from very early in the design phase of the motorhome I wanted a "common or garden variety" motor, my reasoning being that one day something will break, and I want the parts to be cheap and easy to obtain.

I chose the Perkins for this reason, it's an old-fashioned motor that everyone knows how to fix, and the parts are cheap.

Well here's a test case, was I right?

I get on the phone to the mechanic and tell him I've got a knackered lift pump. "What motor?", "A Perkins 6354", "Two-bolt or four-bolt pump?", "Two-bolt", "Yeah we've got the parts on the shelf, $28 for a rebuild kit and $20 labour, be ready in an hour or so".

Yep, I was right.

I spend the rest of the day, rotating tyres to even the wear, installing the newly-fixed lift pump, and watching Uwe reset the springs.

Thu 21 Nov

The springs are done. Uwe and I put them back in (a rather smooth operation requiring minimal use of large hammers), then I finish off by tightening everything, cleaning up the tools and mopping the floor. "A man of many talents", as one of the lads said.

The truck's front is at least 3" higher than before, we have a good camber on the springs and the hangers are vertical. So far so good, tomorrow we'll take it out on the road and see if the ride is any better.

While we are camped inside the workshop a truck comes in for a wheel alignment. It's used as a goat carrier and smells as bad as you would expect a goat carrying truck to smell.

The alignment is performed in record time and before I could blink, the truck and the smell, have gone.

TIP: For a speedy repair job, smear your vehicle with cow manure.

Fri 22 Nov

We leave Twomeys with our new springs. Initial indications are that they have made a difference, the ride is definitely better although we'll have to find some corrugations to be sure.

We spend the day in town, I rent a phone line from an internet cafe and upload the site while Chris does some shopping.

At around 3PM we leave town, fuel up at the 440 roadhouse and stop for the night at a rest area about 22k north of Geraldton.

North!, yep, we're going to backtrack to Kalbarri.

Sat 23 Nov

We drive to Northhampton then turn off onto the Kalbarri road, dropping into Port Gregory for a few hours.


Ruined farm house on the coast road to Kalbarri

Just out of town we find the Hutt Lagoon (AKA Pink Lake), a very weird stretch of water. It's quite pink as the nickname implies, caused I believe by some sort of mineral deposit from the nearby garnet mine.

It's also incredibly salty and the few dead trees we see are encrusted.


Hutt Lagoon is also known as Pink Lake

Leaving Port Gregory we drive just a few kilometres up the road and turn off on the unsignposted track that leads to Lucky Bay. I'd been told about this spot by one of the guys at Twomeys, the description he gave me matched the terrain exactly with one exception.

There is supposed to be some "massive" trees at the turnoff, so for several miles I'm looking for the crowns of a huge eucalypt or two, soaring proud over the horizon.

When we arrive at the turnoff we find some largish trees all right, but not what I'd call massive. Then I remember, the lad that gave me the directions had probably lived on the west coast all his life and, by west coast standards, these trees are massive.

Within minutes it's quite plain that our new springs are doing the trick. We gayly drive over corrugations at 30kph that, just last week, would have loosened our dentures at 10.

TIP: If you're anywhere near Geraldton and need work done on your springs, or a wheel alignment, get to Towmeys on Flores Rd. (ph 9921 3166) They are also a general engineering company, and can fix other things like tow bars and tanks as well.

On reaching Lucky Bay we find a small community of shacks, but little else. I've heard that there's a nice reef here but today the weather is bad the the place is not too enticing. I later found out that Lucky Bay is actually past the shacks, further up the coast.


It seems that the Lucky Bay shacks days are numbered

Speaking of weather, we had some rain today, for a brief period there was actually water falling from the sky. We'd almost forgotten what it looked like.

We could carry on but there's important matters to attend to, so we find a flat spot in the scrub and drop anchor for the night.

"What important matters?" I hear you ask. Why the home brew of course. We have a vat ready for bottling, and want to start another.

A couple of hours later we have 30 more bottles starting their second fermentation, and another 24 litres starting its first.

All-in-all that makes 90 large bottles of lager, in various stages of fermentation, stashed in the motorhome. That should get me through Christmas.

Sun 24 Nov

This morning is spent visiting all the lookouts along the Kalbarri National Park coast. There's some quite spectacular cliffs here.


The Kalbarri coast, Natural Bridge and Island rock.

At around lunch time we get into town, poke around for a while then decide to stay the night. There's no obvious free camping spots so it looks like a caravan park.

We drive out to one we passed earlier, they can't fit us inside the park but we're welcome to park outside and run a power lead over the fence. Oh and that'll be $18.50 with power, $16.50 without.

That's a bit steep for parking on the side of the road, but then I suppose it will be nice to have a long hot shower.

We park in the spot indicated but decline the power as we don't need it. I get a motor bike out and go scouting for photos.


A pelican takes off from the banks of the Murchison River, Kalbarri.


The day's final rays light up the cliff at Eagle Gorge, just south of Kalbarri township

When I return it's after sunset but there's no lights on in any buildings or caravans, maybe there's a problem with the power. I don't give it much thought, after all there is plenty of power in the truck.

Later I go for that long hot shower I've been looking forward to (the one that's costing me $16.50), there's still no lights and it looks like there has been a power failure, but I figure I can shower with the torch. However when I get to the ablutions block I find that there's also no water, maybe the water is pump driven.

All-in-all we're not very happy campers, we've paid sixteen bucks for the privilege of parking on the side of the road and using all our own facilities. Something we usually do for free.

Mon 25 Nov

It's on to the famous Nature's Window today. This rock formation is Kalbarri's best known feature and supposedly well worth the visit.

Ten kilometres out of town we turn off onto the access road. There's a sign indicating that the road can be very rough, and they mean it.

Still, our new springs make it bearable, and after I reduce tyre pressures it's even OK.

On reaching the car park we immediately walk down to the "window". It looks good and I do take a couple of photos, but my feeling is it will be much nicer late this afternoon.


Nature's Window from the "other" side

One group of tourists ask if I can take a photo of them with their cameras. No problems I say. While composing the shot I step to and fro to get the framing just right, then decide that I really need to be about a foot higher so the river will appear through the window. I turn around to find that a small rock platform has been built right there, and it's about a foot high. No prizes for guessing why it was built.

I tend to hang around these places for ages, looking for angles and trying to figure out where the light will fall later in the day, meanwhile tourists come and tourists go. Many of them asked if I can do the honours with their cameras.

Just when I'm about to leave a couple walk past with a camera and disappear around the corner. I wait a few minutes and the woman returns with that "I'm about to ask a favour" look on her face. "Yes I can take your photo" I say, pre-empting the question.

I return to the motorhome for a while then, as the sun nears the horizon, it's off again, back to the window.

I was right, the light is getting better and I get some good shots, in between talking to a nice group from Perth, and some Japanese girls.


Nature's Window in Kalbarri National Park

Tue 26 Nov

Up early and off to Z-bend. We're not all that impressed so just hang around for a while then leave.

In general we've missed the wildflower season but there are still pockets of colour here and there. One such pocket we encounter on the road out to the highway. We stop for a photo op, then continue to the main road and back to "our" rest area, 35k north of Geraldton.


Wildflowers on the side of the road

Wed 27 Nov

We have a slack attack today so just sit in the rest area.

Got chatting to Derek and Joy in "Goz Print" who pulled in yesterday. Derek has a great sense of humour and reminds me very much of my brother-in-law.

They travel around Australia making a living from doing small printing jobs - business cards, fridge magnets etc - for people living in the towns they pass through.

Fri 29 Nov

It's back to Twomeys this morning. They very kindly offered us some space and power at the back of the yard so I can do some work on the truck.

We also have splits in both fresh water tanks that need fixing and, if I do the work to pull them out, the repairs won't cost much.

TIP: Don't get stainless steel tanks unless you can verify that the makers really know what they're doing. Even then, advice I've received of late indicates that SS really isn't good for large tanks as the panels flex and work harden.

I do pull both the tanks out but we decide to convert one of then to storage for the push bikes so we only get the smaller one fixed.

With the drinking water tank this now gives us 600 litres which we feel will be enough. We used to have 1000 but never really came close to getting empty so hope that the reduced amount will be OK.


"Blueprint" pulls in for some repairs on their water tank.


We couldn't afford an Onan generator when building the truck but here's one not being used in the Twomeys yard. I just have to see where it will fit

Wed 4 Dec

After several days working on the truck we leave Twomeys and drive into town. Chris does some shopping while I rent a phone line from a local computer firm, to upload changes to the site.

When finished we leave Geraldton and head north again. This time just to Coronation Beach, about 25k out of town.

Coronation Beach is renowned as a wind surfing location and when we arrive the place is chocker-block with wind surfers (and the odd kite surfer).

It's very windy (surprise surprise) but at least the wind surfers provide an interesting spectacle.

At about 4:30 I notice that the light is changing, then remember that there is a solar eclipse today. We'd forgotten about it. I quickly find a square of cardboard and a needle to fabricate a pinhole camera to watch the event.

The eclipse is not 100% here but quiet fascinating nonetheless.


Wind- and kite-surfers at Coronation Beach. Note the weirdly dark sky caused by the eclipse.

Also around this time the wind drops to a mere breeze. With the wind dropping and the sun being "eaten" it is quite eerie, even for a sophisticated 21st-century man-about-town. Such events must have scared the daylights out of people in primitive societies.

Thu 5 Dec

We spend a lot of time watching the lobster fishermen in their boats just offshore. We cannot however fathom what they are doing, they seem to go up and down, and round and round, with no pattern obvious to the untrained eye.


While I was talking to some people Chris brought my attention to the sunset. With one frame left on the film I took a grab shot. It turned out quite well

Fri 6 Dec

Most of the windsurfers have left. There's a strong easterly bringing hot air from the interior and it's 36 degrees by 8AM.

With bad surfing conditions and hot weather the campers go into town and, according to the ranger, hang out in the air conditioned shopping centre.

It seems that the ranger had been expecting us. Shorty (who we camped with at Osprey bay) was here recently and has been telling everyone to be on the lookout for our purple contraption.

Sat 7 Dec

We've been at Coronation Beach for a couple of days, there's not much happening because the wind isn't right for the surfers.

Not that there isn't any wind, it's just coming from the wrong direction and flattening the break out on the reef.

With no break the wind surfers can't do their tricks on the waves, so they loose interest.

Some have stayed and we've talked with a few, one couple from England and another from Germany, both came here for the wind surfing.

Coronation Beach is well known around the world but not, I assume, for the actual beach, which is just a seaweed infested stretch of sand.

Yesterday I got chatting to one of the kite surfers. Nico is a young German, out here to indulge his kite surfing passion.

He approaches us this morning to ask if I got any photos of him. He was performing some extremely high jumps yesterday but, at the time, I was interested in the wind surfers. I say that I don't think I have any shots, but will email him anything I do have. He gives me a pre-prepared note with his eddress, the note starts "Dear Mr Fotograph", hmmm, Mr Fotograph, that's got a nice ring to it.


Nico, a German kite surfer, has done surfing for the day

We cruise down the road, finding a rest area just before sunset. It's a small area and we have to manoeuvre considerably before parking quite close to the existing occupant. Just as I'm hoping that we haven't disturbed them, I spot the telltale signs of a generator, an extension lead running from the car to the caravan.

We settle for a sunset drink when...

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

...the generator starts up, oh well. Fortunately it is fairly cold so we close the shutters and the noise isn't too bad. At about 8PM they switch it off, that's reasonable.

Sun 8 Dec

It's 4AM and all's quite in slumberland...

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

What the heck!! It's that bloody generator!

Chris bolts from the truck and "has words" with the owner. I was largely still asleep but did hear some of the words...

rest area...supposed to rest...I don't give a...noise laws you know...but I'm working

Oh, well that's OK, as long as he's working. Eventually the fellow can't stand it, packs up, and leaves.

We still don't know what he was doing. If he had a real problem, like flat batteries and a fridge full of food, we'd be the first to supply some power or help out in some way. Heck I'd even help start his generator. But he didn't indicate that he had a problem, as far as we could tell he was just doing some maintenance.

Later, at a more civilised hour, we leave the rest area and drive down towards Cervantes via the coast road, passing many shacks as they are prolific around here.


One of the many "shacks" on the coast. You could live in a worse place

We lunch at Jurien, then I walk out onto the jetty looking for photos.

There's two lads jumping from the jetty and every now and them I see their heads bobbing out of the water as they surface from a dive.

I lose interest for a while and, when my gaze returns to the spot the lads were swimming I once again see a head bob to the surface. This head's different though, it's much more streamlined than the average human teenager, a lot furrier, and has large whiskers. It's a sea lion.

The sea lion is trying (and often succeeding) to steal fish from the fishermen's lines. When a fish is hooked it's a race to see who actually lands it, the fisherman or the sea lion.

It seems that the animal has got a little enthusiastic on occasion as it has some ganged hooks and portion of line trailing from it's mouth. It doesn't seem to slow it down any so I hope it won't be a long term problem.

In between stealing fish the sea lion poses for my camera. They really seem to be fun-loving animals and this one swims around in circles first giving me a left profile, then a right. Every now and then it seems to nod off, with eyes closed and head and tail sinking below water level, held up by a fat-laden middle.


Sea lion posing below the Jurien jetty. Note the ganged hooks and tracer hanging from its month, and how the fish keep their distance in the third photo

I get a lot of photos but the wind finally drives me from the jetty, almost literally, it's so strong I have to be careful not to join the sea lion in the water.

We continue to Cervantes but there's not much here so it's out to The Pinnacles. There's a sign at the entrance to the dirt track that loops around the rock formations. It says that the track is unsuitable for vehicles over 24 seats, well we're only a two-seater but we decide to play it safe and leave the truck in the car park.

We ride around the loop on a motorbike then I swap Chris for my camera gear and return, hanging out amongst the rocks until after sunset.



Nambung NP (AKA The Pinnacles) is an outstanding place. In the space of an hour I took about 20 photos, most of which I was happy with. Here's five of them

Mon 9 Dec

We're within a gnat's fart of Perth now but want to visit Yanchep National Park before entering the city, so we camp near a pine forest just north of the park.

Tue 10 Dec

Today is spent in Yanchep National Park. It's more a manicured picnic area and, at first, I didn't think there would be much to interest me.

However there's plenty of "wildlife" (not that wild really) and I spend the day photographing ducks, cockatoos and koalas.


Koalas sure are cute to look at.


Duck delves for damp delicacy.


Black Cockatoos.

At around 4PM we leave and return to our spot in the pine trees.

Wed 11 Dec

We hit Perth, at last. Turning off Waneroo Rd we park near Hillary's Boat Harbour, wander around for a while then decide to look for somewhere to stay.

As we plan to spend at least a couple of weeks in Perth we don't really want to free camp as we'll probably have to move regularly, so it looks like we'll have to fork out for a caravan park.

We ride down the coast looking for one that is both pleasant, and large enough to fit the truck, having no luck until we get to the Woodman Point Holiday Park, right down past Fremantle.

At this time of year they are usually fully booked, but have had a cancellation which leaves a single spot large enough for Wothahellizat.

We book it and pay $400-odd, ouch, that'll push our accommodation average up a bit. That's nearly six months worth of our recent average expenditure on accommodation, in just over two weeks!. Is it any wonder full timers try to free camp as much as possible, at these prices you couldn't afford to leave home if you had to stay in caravan parks all the time.

We ride way back up to the other side of town and return with the truck. The park is very pleasant and, to be fair, it's nice to be able to set up in a secure environment with clean facilities. We just can't afford to do it very often.

 

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