Heading South

Exmouth Friday

A nice lie in this morning as we are a bit tired after yesterday.
Today is all about getting ready to leave here tomorrow and of course the Geelong game tonight. We go domestic with washing and shopping done before heading to the pool for a dip. We get entertained by a couple of girls chatting about how to get rid of a guy that they have as a roommate in their house. This goes on for quite a while and that guy’s ears should be red hot. He will be finding new accomodation pretty soon I should think.
Before we know it we are heading to Joel’s house for the game with Flick and a few of their mates in for the game. No further details needed re the game but the company is great. We say our thanks and goodbyes and head to bed.

Goodbye Exmouth

After a not so great night at Joel’s house due to Geelong getting a footy lesson we are up and on the road. Today is a bad day as we start to head south and will suffer an extreme change in weather. We might even get some rain which we have not seen since leaving in July. In WA the kids are now on a fortnight holiday and Exmouth got really busy yesterday with families arriving from Perth.

We have a drive today of around four hours as we head to the north side of Carnarvon where we will free camp at the Quobba Blowholes for 1 night and visit the blowholes which will be pretty wild due to the winds and predicted sea swell.

After a couple of stops to fuel up and have a wee breakfast then later a wee lunch we arrived at the blowholes. The change in weather is a shocker with clouds and a big temperature drop. The camp itself is fine but has some old and run down sheds around the place. Anyone is allowed to stay here but for a maximum of 30 days. The thought of staying here that long fills us with dread. We are happy to once again get our bikes off the van and go for a cycle around the place. We head down to the coastline to watch the blowholes in action and bloody hell they are going off, shooting high above us before the wind catches the spray and provided a good salty shower. The waves around the blowhole area are just scary with chaos as the waves push in and crash in to the waves pushed back from the sea wall. the signs warning that the area is dangerous and king waves can kill are not there for a laugh.

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There is also a lighthouse sitting high above the camp which we hope lights up after dark. We cycle around and checkout everyone’s stuff, at the far end there are lot’s of dogs and kids around a few camps. There are also a few large buses but these are not the type we have been seeing in other camps and have a more poor hippy feel to them as a posed to the millionaires we have seen. Amazingly there is a small sandy beach, the amazing part being that people are snorkelling in the freezing water just off it. I can assure you we will not be dipping even a toe in that water. We get back to the comfort of the van and out of the wind just in time for sunset drinks. We are having a very nice time thank you, when the guy parked next to us, and I mean right up our chuff starts the noisiest generator in the world. It sounds like something in a car spray shop and I can tell you now that there is now way that will be running as we close our eyes to sleep later on, lol.
Here we have no phone service, TV or internet so tonight will be movie night using our solar power. Tonight’s showing will be Sully staring Tom Hanks. We would watch the third series of Sons of Anarchy on our hard drive but like the first series there is no sound, not happy bout that. Anyway that’s all for now folks.

Quobba to Hamelin

A strange nights sleep as we had the wind blowing pretty much all night and we also had a bit of rain. This is the first rain we have heard since July but we can still stay, we haven’t seen rain still.
Today we are heading for the town of Hamelin where we will stay at a station for a couple of days and tour Monkey Mia and Denham.

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We head off early as we had the luxury of leaving the van attached to the car at this stop. We get off and then stop for fuel then make another stop in Carnarvon for supplies. We could have stayed here last night and on seeing the place we are happy we didn’t. Shopping done and now heading for Hamelin Outback Station which is at the end of Shark Bay road and the road is not the usual dirt tracks we have experienced.

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The death toll of animals on the way is pretty high with goats, sheep, kangaroos, birds (one that flew in to our back wheel) and Wallabies. The bigger birds do not need to do any hunting as the road is like a butchers table. As we arrive at the station we are very happy as this one looks to be very well looked after and the space given to us is huge. The women who book us in are really easy to deal with and happy and they show us around the facilities which are really clean and very well equipped. The station is part of Bush Heritage Australia which is a non profit organisation started by the politician Bob Brown that acquires properties, manages land of conservation value and now have over six million hectares secured. It runs by having over forty thousand people donating both monies and time to conserve the land for Australia’s plants and animals. The bathrooms and kitchen here are probably the best we have seen on this trip and we will utilise the kitchen later.

After getting set up we head for the main reason we stayed here and that is the Stromatolites (Greek for layered rock) which are found in only one other place on earth and are single celled Cyanobacteria which are related to Stromatolites fossils that dominate 80% of the fossil record throughout earths history. They look like a gathering of rocks some of which get together, some form a carpet like structure and they all release oxygen.

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These are rocks that are actually alive and formed the building blocks of life some 3.5 billion years ago. (Yes I did read a pamphlet. Unlucky for us and we knew it had to happen as we dropped south of the Tropic of Capricorn earlier today, it is raining.

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We cover the boardwalk over the Stromatolites faster than we might have if it were not wet and get back to the dry of the car before heading back to the station. We head over to the kitchen to cook tea, tonight it’s Thai curry with rice and garlic nan. The kitchen has everything needed from spoons to pots n pans. Next to the kitchen is a huge country kitchen table and a huge open fireplace making the place toasty warm and like all kitchen space it is the meeting and chatting point with lots of people dicussing which way they are heading and where they have been. We then retire as we have a big day tomorrow.

Denham and Monkey Mia

On the road heading for Monkey Mia and Denham we head to Monkey Mia first time and we will visit Denham on the way back. The reason being in Monkey Mia there is a feed the wild Dolphins program and it starts pretty early. We arrive and pay our entry fee in to the national park and head straight for the water as the Dolphin feeding is about to start, this assumes that some will actually turn up. No need to worry though as almost immediately two appear from nowhere and we are told to line up and step in to the cold water. Then Wembley receive a bit of an education and warnings about not touching the Dolphins even if they come and touch you. For us the chat goes on a bit too long considering we are standing in cold water but eventually the feeding begins with volunteers arriving with buckets of fish. The buckets would you believe have only three fish and only three volunteers clearly this would not take long. The highlight being a mother and baby appearing but staying back from the main action. We are lucky later when we get to see the second feeding but this time viewed from the pier to keep our toenice as this place is we don’t hang about as we only came for the Dolphins.

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We head back to Denham and have a look round and nice as it is we have seen better but we are low on alcohol and the town has a bottle shop which we take full advantage of and then head back to base where we will repeat last night but this time with leftovers of curry but this time we have a nice bottle of red to compliment it. We have a further tour round the property which is 202,000 hectares but we get round maybe two. We tour the various shed sun around the place and the lake which has a varieriety of bird life. Then movie night tonight is Nice Guys with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.

Kilbarri

Moving day again as we head south to Kilbarri.

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Usual easy routine of getting the van down and hitched up to the car which we are now pretty good at. On the way down the clouds gather and yes bloody rain again but this time pretty heavy. So much so that we pull over and let it pass. As we get closer to Kilbarri the rain has gone and the sun is shining but at a much lower temperature than we are used to.
Here we are staying in a Top Tourist park a site we get discount for and it scored well on WikiCamps. We are pretty impressed with Kalbarri and we get to charge up our iequipment. Fully set up we are on the road to visit some of the local sites which are all coastline and sheer drops.

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One the way back we get a surprise and for the secondtime on the trip I get breath tested by the cops. All good of course and the cop says remove the plastic mouth piece after I used it and says ” you can keep that”. Another souvenir brill.

Back at camp and the place has filled up and there is not one spot to be had. We have a lazy one and get some fish n chips for tea and before we know it another day is gone. We will be here for a couple of days but have the option of staying longer. We plan to be in Perth by Sunday as we need to get the car serviced on Monday before we head to Margaret River on Tuesday.

Swimming With Whales @ Ningaloo

After a great sleep we are up and excited because today is the day when we will go out on Joel’s boat and swim with Whales at Ningaloo.
First we get to the fab pool again and have a morning wake up dip and then treat ourselves to a square sausage roll for breakfast. We read something we tend to ignore, that is the tide times and winds forecast for the day. We are in luck as it looks pretty good, as if we know anything really. We head out and raid the shops for supplies, ie snacks, beers, cider and Jim Beam. The temperature is about 35 degrees and sunny as usual. We get a text from Joel “5 minutes to pick up”. Yep not only is he taking us out for the day but we are being collected and dropped off!!
We grab all our gear and it must look like we are leaving for a week as we have bags of stuff snorkels, towels, sun oil, fins, food, camera and GoPro. We get outside and see the 4×4 with boat in tow approaching and can’t lie, we are relieved the boat is the size it is. We thought it might have been a tinny and our collective stomachs would have turned. We are also pleased that Joel has brought a friend name Flick with him rather than being stuck with us two oldies for the day. Flick proved her worth during the entire day by being able to do all things regarding the boat and being a fantastic and extremely cool individual who we discovered later makes spectacular canapés.

Joel and Flick get the boat launched off the trailer as we stand pretending to be helping. In no time we are heading out in to the most amazing turquoise water.
We are hardly 10 minutes in to the trip when we spot a manta ray gliding in the water and without hesitation Joel is in the water to see if the Ray will hang around for a play and also that it won’t freak us out. Flick takes over the boat driving and we collect Joel and the three of us get in and swim alongside this amazing creature which moves through the water as if it is flying while we kick like crazy with our fins in snorkels and masks, what a start to the day. Back on board we motor on spot another manta ray which is wider than the boat and has to be four times the size of the one earlier but this ray does not want to play and dives deep and disappears. Whilst this is happening out in the deep water we can see some Hump Back Whales breaching and spouting in large numbers. Joel guns it and we are getting close to them, so much so that we are now in their swimming line and they are heading straight for us. No joke we are shitting ourselves as these things are the size of a house. “Get in NOW” shouts Joel, Kaz and Flick jump in and there is a moment of silence as they float like corks and wait to see what will happen. Then a massive whale and calf swim directly under and miss them both by about one metre and they both dive with heads down to get a view not many people get as mother and baby power on past then break the surface to show their bulk before swimming on. Kaz and Flick return to the boat ready to burst in to tears at the enormity of the experience they have just shared, a pinch me moment for sure.
We motor on a bit and head for a favourite swimming spot of theirs which was pretty good but the wind had picked up a wee bit and is making it a bit of a slog to swim around. We cane this and head out deep again looking to swim with some more Whales and we find plenty but the all seem to turn away or dive deep to avoid us. It is still amazing just being this close to them in the wild and it gives and amazing perspective of scale.
Joel decides we will break and heads in to a sheltered spot as the sun starts to set already and we crack open our food and drinks. Both myself and Kaz are looking around thinking ” how is it that we are here in this moment” very very lucky people indeed.
Flicks canapés do not last long as the drinks flow and the four of us have a collective laugh together and take in the extraordinary scenery on offer. The wind picks up again and before it’s too late Joel makes the decision to get the boat back on to the trailer before dark. We power in to the jetty where we launched from but it’s a bit choppy so we decamp and Flick will drop us off and then meet Joel with the boat at a different jetty. So before we know it the day has been and gone. One thing in the rush we forgot was to do was thank them both properly but we will get the chance to do that Friday as Joel has invited us to his house to watch the Geelong game with a few of his mates. Go Geelong.
PS sorry no pic’s as the camera stuffed up on the boat.

Exmouth – Cape Range Park

We hit the road today and went to the lighthouse lookout to take in some of the best scenery ever seen anywhere. With the Indian Ocean as a backdrop and streams of whales swimming past it does not get better.

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We made our way to turquoise beach where we intended to swim and snorkel and as we walk to the beach there are signs warning that swimming is dangerous due to fast currents and rips.

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We get in anyway but gees, the current is so strong it is hard to even stand just off the beach. We attempt a swim but get swept so fast we decide that we will get out and head to our base and get ready to take in the sunset from the lighthouse later.

We get a message from Joel who let’s us know that the boat trip for tomorrow is on and not only that but he will come and collect us. We will then spend the afternoon whale watching and swimming and take in the sunset on the boat!!

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We take nibbles and drinks to the lighthouse and watch the sunset and to be honest, great as it was we have seen better and the place was heaving and noisy. Tomorrow on the boat might and in fact will be better.

Exmouth 2

Today we need to get some business done re houses which means we had to head off to the local library and do some printing and scanning. With this out the way we get our bikes off the van and cycle in to Exmouth for breakfast and a look around. Quite surprised at how many shops etc were there. We spot a dive shop,and head in as the snorkel I am using is doing what they all do for me, leak water in to the mask. The guys are great in the shop and let me try several but they all do the same thing, which is fail to seal around my fat face. Then we see a full face mask and decide to try that one on. It’s expensive but if it stops me drowning it might be money well spent. They guy says take this one back to the resort and try it in the pool and if it works, happy days and we buy it. If not no worries and we don’t buy it. Off we go on our bikes and it’s in to the pool with thing literally strapped to my head. I jump in the pool and face down it seems promising then streaks of water enter the mask and ffs it is not going to work. Kaz is jealous at how good I look in it and has a go herself but it just freaks her out and we take it back to the dive shop and I will just drown in the mask I already have.

We spend the rest of the day at the fantastic pool where we meet a couple of Brit girls and chat about all things Australian and of course shitty British weather. When we get back to the van our neighbours who we have been chatting to offer us some freshly caught Trevally which has been filleted and is ready for the pan. Well we don’t waste any time and grab that offer with both hands. We have been chatting to them since we arrived hear and they are actually a great laugh. Kaz gets back to her Chef roots and cooks up the fish a treat. It is the freshest pure white goodness and it goes down with a drop of wine just lovely.
Having scoffed our dinner the heat is still on and we get back over to the pool for a wee cool off before it closes at sunset. A great end to a magic but HOT day.

Exmouth

A very short drive today of about two hours as we made our way north from Coral Bay to Exmouth. We will be based in Exmouth until Friday.
The drive was uneventful except for some sheep on the road both living and deceased and we head straight to the information centre to do our research of the area. Here there are only two van parks and luckily both are within walking distance from the information centre and in fact the Ningaloo caravan and holiday resort is across the road. We had checked this one out on WikiCamps and the revues were not that brilliant. We reckon that is partly due to the fact that it is pretty expensive and is certainly no “resort”.
We walk in and ask if we could have a look round before we commit and the staff look both surprised and we think semi annoyed but allow us in anyway. We walk around and have the luxury of choosing any site we like. We do a tour listening out for crying babies or evidence of said babies and decide on a pretty level sunny site with good access. We book one night and will probably extend this later.

Thanks to Sarah who works with Kaz we have another luxury which is to meet with Joel her brother who is a lucky man and lives in Exmouth. We head off having set up our base to the local town beach and meet Joel for a chat and to formulate a plan. On the way we have to drive round a couple of Emus which are like pigeons here as they just wander around the town doing what they like.

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Amazingly Joel offers to take us out on his boat in to the gulf on Thursday to do some snorkelling, fishing and swimming with whales. We snap that offer up pdq and then Joel gives us the good oil on the best attractions in the area to get round in the next few days even down to where to eat, fantastic.

On Joel’s say so make our way out to Bundegi beach which is very close to the Indian Ocean side of the area. This beach is not as good as Coral Bay but as it is 38 degrees a swim is the order of the day and we get in to the water to cool off, bloody beautiful.
As we sit looking out in to the gulf a pod of Hump Back Whales arrive and put on a fantastic show of jumping out the water and splashing down with a bang which arrives a few seconds later. It seemed to be the calf of the bunch doing most of the breaching and looked to be mucking around. As we sat on the beach for the rest of the afternoon whales would continue to swim past our spot so much so that we shared our binoculars with a couple of German girls who were back packing and had yet to see any whales. On hearing we were Scottish, one of the girls mentioned that Bayern Munich would be playing Glasgow Celtic in the Champions League, the world game indeed. Having snorkelled and swam for a bit we head back to base and eat our leftover pasta from last nights dinner in Coral Bay and watch some TV. This is the first time we have had reception for over two weeks. We need to think about this if we decide to move from here on Friday to Carnarvon as we want to make sure we get to see the Geelong game. It should be ok though as the old farts were doing this as they travelled south to Perth and they waned to see the Eagles v GWS game.

Coral Bay – Last Days

Saturday Coral Bay

Today started out like yesterday with the old farts (Jenna’s Words not mine) leaving this time on their way home to Perth.

We have a boring day with Coral beach snorkelling, swimming and sun baking.

After a great day we are off to the pub again to watch the West Coast Eagles play GWS.

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It’s as you would expect a one sided support in the bar but there are a few for GWS in as well. One particular being a guy wearing a Geelong top whooping it up every time GWS scored. We get chatting to a couple of guys who are from Exmouth, Kaz says do you know a guy called Joel? turns out they are best mates. Joel is taking us out on his boat for a spot of snorkelling, fishing and with some luck swimming with whales when we get to Exmouth.
We watch the game until half time and it looks like and turns out to be that the Eagles get humped.
We get back to base and turn in for the night as usual knackered.

Sunday Coral Bay

Last day here and feels a bit strange with all the new people around us for some reason. We get half packed up for leaving Monday with all the non essentials put away. Having watched all the boats taking people to the outer reef all week today is the day when we are the ones going out.

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10 am and we are on board the glass bottom boat and heading way out towards the break for some snorkelling. On the way we go out to the massive Ayers Rock Coral that I swam out to but was unable to find. When we actually get to see it, I have no idea how I missed it. My only defence is I am a rubbish swimmer.

We skim across the top of the Coral as we head out, the variety and health of it is amazing.

Apparently it is one of the healthiest reefs on the planet due to the water being a bit colder than other reefs and no chemical run offs going in to the waterways here. In no time we arrive at the outer reef and we are both in the water with our snorkelling gear on and a set of fins. We take the opportunity to go on the snorkelling safari with one of the crew and we are glad we did. She takes us to the most amazing sights with fantastic Coral, turtles, stingrays, reef sharks and a whole bunch of other fish species. At times the swimming is quite tough but we all manage to follow on and all made it safely back to the boat. Kaz grabs the GoPro and heads out and films some action. As we are swimming and filming the skipper is dropping fish food around us and these fish have no fear slapping you in the face to get to the stuff. After a good 45 minutes we have to head back taking in the beautiful beaches of Coral Bay as we sail back to shore.

This trip was a great way to spend our last day here and I would recommend you get on it if you get the chance.

We get back to base and find that there are a couple of pop top camper vans parked up our chuff. These were a couple of families from Perth who were not that experienced in how to reverse a van in and were then helped by a couple of guys one of which hit a tree next to us with his own car not once but twice. Him and his mate helped them set up and even managed to break a rule that states, all A frames should point to the road. We were glad that this was our last day.
Later we decide to treat ourselves and head to the Reef Cafe for some food. We grab a nice bottle of WA red for the table and end up ordering chilli mussels and then a couple of pasta dishes which were huge. So huge that we got them to go and that means lunch for tomorrow is sorted. Once again we retire exhausted but happy to be moving on in the morning to Exmouth.

Friday – Coral Bay

Today starting off with Jenna and Daz leaving, off on the next part of their trip. Everyone up to wish them safe travels and they are off in no time.

Friday at last and we will be out and on the beach having another day of sun, snorkelling and getting the GoPro on again.

There is a huge piece of Coral in the water called Ayres Rock, the glass bottom boats take people to view it.

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I am not the strongest swimmer and Kaz is scared of what might be in the water waiting to eat her. I decide I will have a go at swimming out to the rock with my snorkel. I start to swim out and out and out, I make sure that I swim against the tide a bit so that I can drift over the Coral but I am a decent distance out in the bay and although there is Coral everywhere, there is no signpost or arrow to figure out if I am close and I swim around a bit looking for the thing with no luck. I decide that I would give up and pop my head up to find myself with a bloody long way to go to get back to the beach. By the time I get back my pipe cleaner arms are aching and my lungs are threatening to burst out of my chest. Kaz greets me with ” well what’s it like” you can guess the answer I gave.

Later on about 5.30 we head over to Bill’s Bar to have tea and watch Geelong play, sorry slaughter Sydney.

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It started out a bit rowdy with a group of guys who had been on a fishing charter making some pro Sydney noises but that didn’t last long as their team got destroyed.

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We must confess that we expected to watch maybe the first half of the game and that Sydney would win but great to be there till the last kick, a great night.

We might go back and watch the Eagles tomorrow night as there will be decent WA crowd in I should think.

Coral bay

Same story as yesterday with square sausage breakfast, yum. A bit of a chat with the next doors and off to repeat the day before with Kaz sun baking and me sun shading in the tent.

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Lot’s of movement in camp with about 14 vans waiting to get in. Lot’s of snorkelling and relaxing. Decided to walk up to the lookout and take in the sunset with the travelling retired comedians. Cheryl, Lynn, Griffo, Jeff and Chino one of the most laid back dogs you would ever meet. Not a lot of people there to start with then a mob of folks arrived all looking for that great shot.

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Tonight will be an easy one with Sons of Anarchy on the menu and a quiet night. Tomorrow we will get back to Bills for the Geelong game on the big screen.

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The young Perth folks Jenna and Daz are moving on Friday, funnily enough they are heading for Karijini where we left a while ago now.