Friday, 3 August 2012

Geraldton to Carnarvon (Point Quobba)

Geraldton to Carnarvon (Point Quobba) 25/5/12 - 18/6/12
          


We were still travelling the coastal route which is called Australia's Coral Coast. This area is from Perth all the way north to Exmouth. Bordered by the orange line on the map


Our next major town we headed for was Kalbarri on the coast. We left the N/W Coastal Hwy at Northhampton and drove along the scenic coastal route, opened in June 2000. A side trip was taken to a small fishing village, Port Gregory, passing the Pink Lake, which was pink this time. This is created by the naturally occurring beta carotene.






We also passed some ruins built in 1853 and are being restored.
These were used to house convicts who worked on the Geraldton mine and pastoral stations. Etched initials of convicts can be seen on the cell walls.















Kalbarri

Kalbarri is 577 kms nth of Perth and has a pop. of 2,000. Before the year 2000 there was only one 4WD route into Kalbarri. Now a sealed road from the south takes you past picturesque grazing land, rolling hills, views over sand dunes then on to scenic cliffs before reaching Kalbarri which is right on the mouth of the Murchison River. Here we stayed in the Murchison Caravan Park for 2 nights, enjoying electricity, TV, continuous water, hot showers and flushing toilets. This is a very picturesque seaside town with many adventure activities to do here.






Bikepath Kalbarri
Rivermouth Kalbarri












We enjoyed paddling the kayak and swimming around the mouth of the river. There was also a great bike track which took you to many protected swimming bays, inside the reef, where Nigel tried snorkelling.



History - In 1629, 2 crewmen who were involved in a mutiny, were put ashore here and it is possible that these were the first white men to settle in Australia. Not by choice. There is a memorial here to commenorate this historical event.

The weather here at the end of May was glorious, 25 deg each day. Not bad for this time of the year.



The Kalbarri National Park surrounds Kalbarri and has a number of scenic gorges, carved out by the Murchison River. As the roads in there were dirt and corrugated we gave it a miss. Maybe next time when we come by again but with a 4WD. While driving back out to the N/W Coastal Hwy we did a small side trip on sealed road to see a couple of smaller gorges (Hawkes Head).


Hawkes Head



Galena Bridge campground
Back on the N/W Coastal Hwy again we travelled towards Shark Bay and stayed at Galena Bridge, a freeby off the side of the Hwy and very popular with caravaners.





We met a lovely couple (Nora and Les and their 2 dogs) from Perth. We also caught up with people we met way back at the beginning of the Nullabor and again in Esperance. It's quite exciting catching up with people we have met along the way. Another night was spent in a freeby before turning off the Hwy to the Shark Bay region. This region meets all criteria for it to be on the World Heritage Listing. The aboriginal name for Shark Bay means Two Waters.

Hamelin Station
We weren't sure where to stay so called into a sheep station offering a caravan park. Hamelin Station had no electricity but was beautifully laid out and had great 4 star amenities. A happy hour was held here every evening at 5pm for everyone staying there to meet each other. That was a great idea as usually the only people you meet are just around the van.




 

While here we visited the Hamelin Pool Marine and Nature Reserve. Here the largest and oldest living fossils lie on the shore in rocky lumps. These are called Stromatolites. They say these are relatively new, being 3,000 years old and resemble the oldest and simplest from of life found on earth. We were amazed at how clear the water is in this area.

















Denham and Monkey Mia

We left the caravan at Hamelin as we just wanted to go up to see Denham and Monkey Mia in one day. About 50kms up the road from Hamelin is Shell Beach, a stretch of coastline made up of countless millions of tiny shells. The shell build up is 8-9 mtrs deep.






Another 40 kms on is the seaside township of Denham, named after Capt. H.H. Denham, who charted Shark Bay in 1858. In 1616, Dirk Hartog, Capt of a dutch trading ship landed near here and was the first recorded white man to set foot on Australian soil, 150 yrs before Capt. Cook. Denham has a pop. of 1,200. It evolved from the pearling industry then to tourism and fishing industries.

Monkey Mia beach

Monkey Mia, a holiday resort and caravan park, is 25kms northeast of Denham. Entry fees are applicable for all visitors. Monkey Mia is very popular and world-famous due to the daily visits of the dolphins and the feeding of them right on the beach. By the time we got there it was late morning and the dolphins had been in and gone. We did see some in the distance so we put the kayak in to get up close but they were making themselves scarce. Still it was a very pleasant paddle in the flat calm conditions. We did see a turtle and a sea snake. Tours can be taken via a catamaran, to view marine life, i.e. dugons, turtles, dolphins and sharks.



Peaceful scenes at Monkey Mia









Looking shoreward from kayak Monkey Mia












Canarvon

Canarvon is 905 kms north of Perth, still on the Coral Coast. It has a pop. of 9,000. It is famous for its banana plantations, other tropical fruits and vegetables, as well as its beautiful weather. Winters are glorious although Feb and March can be very hot. It is 10 deg cooler than Exmouth in summer and 10 deg warmer than Perth in the winter.


While here in Canarvon we caught up with a couple we knew from our cruise 2 years ago. Sue and Ernie. We spent a lovely dinner, evening and overnight stay with them. It just so happened to be our 36th wedding anniversary so it was a nice way to celebrate.

There is a satellite communications and tracking station disk, built in 1966, in Canarvon and was used in the landing on the moon space mission in 1969. Buzz Aldrin came here a few weeks ago to open up a museum. This dish is no longer used.

Point Quobba and the Blowholes
Located just 75 kms drive north of Canarvon situated on the coastline are the Blowholes and Point Quobba. The Blowholes are a natural phenomenon where the ocean swells force water through sea caves and up out of narrow holes in the rock. Jets of water erupt in the air, sometimes to a height of 20 mtrs.


Just 1 km south of the Blowholes is Point Quobba. A calm coral filled lagoon and white sandy beach.
It was here we stayed for 12 nights in a natural beach setting, along with 70 - 80 other caravans, spread over 2 kms along the sand dunes.

Caravans dotted along the coast, Point Quobba
some of the beach shacks
There are a number a old shacks dotted around the camp area. Many of which seem to be in a state of disrepair. We heard they may be demolished in a couple of years. There were no facilities here or mobile, computer or TV reception..  We were told before arriving there we needed to have a chemical toilet with us, so we bought one otherwise we wouldn't have been able to stay here. At $5.50 per night we thought we would stay until our food and water ran out.  It was like having a holiday within a holiday. We found a site right near Les and Nora whom we met a few weeks before.

While there we had a warning from the Police that a mini cyclone was approaching and we had a choice to batten down or move. We decided to stick it out. Others around us drove 350 kms inland to miss it. The cyclone actually missed us and it was only stong wind and heavy rain. The storm, however, went south and hit Perth quite badly.


snorkelling area Point Quobba
Good snorkelling
There is good snorkelling here in a sheltered lagoon where there are lots of brightly coloured tropical fish and coral. It was here Carol learnt to snorkel as she didn't want to miss out on this experience. This area was really good for fishing further down the beach and someone even caught a 6ft shark. By the time we heard and went to see it, it had already been cut up and filleted. We were offered a portion which had been cooked for happy hour. It was so tender and delicious.


Colourful wedding on the beach

While staying here a wedding ceremony was held on the beach. It was a real photo opportunity as the colours were gorgeous.





We ran out of bread a couple of times so we rode our bikes up the dirt road to Quobba station camping ground where we found a small shop sold frozen bread. Also we came across a water bore while out riding, so that kept our water going until we knew it was time to move on and back into Canarvon for one night just to replenish food, water, gas and fuel.


Cape Range National Park near Exmouth was our next destination. We had been told we should book in as it was very popular, so we did just that and were pleased we did.

Next blog will be Coral Bay, Exmouth, Karijini National Park and Dampier/Karratha.

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