Monday, September 28, 2009

Mount Augustus, WA

Mt Augustus (Burringurrah) is twice the size of Uluru and it rises abruptly 715 metres out of an extensive, stony, red sandplain of arid shrubland dominated by spinifax, cassias and wattle. The mount is a sandstone and quartz massif.

Time to get out the serious gear. Notice my climbing boots and my mosquite net on my hat.

I was not game to do the 12 kms return climb up the summit of the mount as Andrew did. But before he climbed Mt Augustus in the afternoon, in the morning we did the 6kms return climb to Edney’s Lookout which satisfied my desire for elevated views without the more strenuous Summit Trail.

The shot above is me munching a muesli bar reward at Edney’s Lookout. Andrew did 18kms overall – all in a day’s work for him. No wonder at Cobra station the lady admired his calf muscles – she told us later that her husband had commented on her gaze.

This photo is out of sequence (Andrew will kill me) as it is back at the Kennedy Ranges looking down into Temple Gorge.
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Kennedy Ranges

We visited the Kennedy Ranges only as a fill in - our attempt to prolong summer and keeping north in WA and escape the chills of winter further south.

I have to say that this part of WA, isolated and rugged, is not my favourite part of this beautiful and impressive state. It is a long way to drive, unless travelling from somewhere else on the way, but the eroded plateau that is the Kennedy Ranges where the eroded parts of the plateau form spectacular cliffs, does offer some impressive views of the ruggedness of this arid part of WA. The range experiences a desert climate and much of the national park is waterless.

However, the above shot is a typical Kennedy Ranges view (the little dots at the bottom are us at the camp) and it is beautiful in its stark majesty.

It was a great surprise to run into Val Holbrook and Gordon at this fairly isolated bush camp at Temple Gorge. We had their WA itinerary and it did not look as if it would be possible for us to meet up as they were slightly behind us time wise. They had some problems with their car and hence the tour, of which they were a part, did not work out smoothly, so they veered from the original itinerary and we also decided at the last minute to come and visit the Kennedy Ranges.

So, I woke from an impromptu afternoon doze in my chair to find Andrew chatting to Gordon. It was hilarious when Val (my sometime Canberra bridge partner) and I sighted each other across the dusty campground in the Kennedy Ranges of WA. We had a pleasant dinner together and decided to meet up again in Carnarvon and travel together for a few days. The photo is in front of their camper with our Priscilla and Max in the background.
Another view of the range.

This is Honeycomb Gorge and it is a rather fascinating shot of the wall of the gorge.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Carnarvon continued

A photo of the Facine, the lagoon at Carnarvon. There are expensive houses being built on the shores of the lagoon, a little like the canals at Surfers Paradise.
A photo of the Gascoyne River which is underground at the moment, sort of like an artisan well but which is capable of flooding the surrounding countryside, including the very spot where this photo is taken
Andrew, Joka and Nikki. Joka is a most delightful, cheerful, popular and loveable woman who has made us so welcome.

Tikka, Joka's cocker spaniel who loves the water. Joka takes her for her daily runs which consist of Joka driving and Tikka strolling or running outside the car.

Tikka is a character. When Joka goes out Tikka immediately leaps on to the sofa, where she is not allowed when Joka is at home. She ignored Andrew and my presence, we obviously did not count, as far as sofas are concerned.
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Carnarvon, WA

We are staying in Carnarvon, a town of 7,000 inhabitants on the Western Australian coast. It is a fruit and vegetable growing district with the most wonderful mango smoothies you have ever tasted.

Joka, Andrew’s Dutch former sister-in-law has been very kind in giving us shelter while we are having Max serviced and just generally enjoying the temporary haven of being in a solid house again for a week.

The weather is quite warm and pleasant here in September. We are whiling away the time before heading south where the climate is still inhospitably cold.

Distances here in WA are vast. It is a large and very under-populated state but it is full of amazing natural beauty. The Pilbara was spectacular. We are trying to decide whether to go to and visit the Kennedy Ranges and Mt Augustus, double the size of Uluru. The distances are the limiting factors.
The photo above is a mural in the town centre depicting the camel trains that used to be popular here in WA. In fact, the first photo above is of Robertson Street, the main thoroughfare in the town and the reason the street was made so unusually wide is to allow the camels to turn around.

The photo above is of Riverview one of the plantations here which also has a very pleasant cafe where we had lunch. The plantation used to be bananas only but now they are a mixture of bananas, mangoes and zucchinis.

A photo of the local produce. Pink grapefruit $2 a bag, avocadoes for $1 each and 1kg of fozen mangoes costing $6. The mangoes are divine and we eat them with yoghurt or ice cream. They are out of season at the moment hence the frozen state but the lose nothing in the process.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cape Range NP, Ningaloo Reef

Getting into Cape Range NP is quite an experience. They have 7 bush campsites, each along a pristine beach within the park and along the reef and no bookings are taken. One needs to queue up early in the morning (6.00am) and the ranger checks at 8.00am each morning as to how many people are leaving and how many spots are available that morning. This is done by radio communications with the camp host at each camp site. Approximately 12-15 lucky cars get in and the rest have to try again the next day. We turned up at 5.30am and were first in the queue.

Once you get in you can stay up to a month and move from one camp site to the next. Your vacated spot is snapped up by another camper. There are toilets provided but you need to carry your own water.

The photo above is of the queue at the ranger station at the entry point to the park.

Cape Range NP means the Ningaloo Reef - photo above. It is a 200 km long coral reef running along the coast of Western Australia and it is Australia’s largest and most accessible fringing reef system. The Barrier Reef may be more spectacular but the Ningaloo Reef is very accessible to anyone swimming in the lagoon between the reef and the beaches along the coast parallel to the reef. The lagoons provide sheltered and safe harbours for great snorkling. April to July whale sharks swim within the lagoon. They are apparently gentle creatures of the deep and swimming with them is an experience.

We were at Ningaloo out of season for the whale sharks and unfortunately for us the weather was not the best for snorkling, with strong winds and swells lasting two weeks. We still managed to enjoy ourselves swimming in the crystal clear turquoise waters of the lagoon.

This photo is of Coral Bay, some 165 kms further south but still on the Ningaloo Reef. The reef is even closer to the edge of the water.
Large spangled Emperors swim close to the shore, you feel you could catch them in your hands but it is a sanctuary with no fishing allowed. Coral Bay is pretty but a tourist place pure and simple. We spent the day there and moved on.

This is our attempt to stay on the right side of the law. Peter and Sharon are police people (coppers) whom we met up with and travelled together with at various free camp spots. When there are two vehicles you get even more adventurous than being on one's own. Peter also endeared himself to us by giving us one of the fish he had caught.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

More animals on our journey

This shot is just so amazing - reminds one of Australia's coat of arms with the kangaroo and the emu on either side of the map of OZ. The shot was taken at a water tap in the Ningaloo Marine Park where the animals come for the water flowing over.

A rare rock wallaby on the cliffs aboce Yardie Creek at Ningaloo. The rock wallabies were prevalent all over WA but predators wiped them out. There are about 40 left at Yardie Creek.

Another of these signs that amuse me.

And shortly after the sign what do we see but this goanna crossing the road.
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More Millstream shots

This is a late afternoon shot of the view from Mt Herbert at Millstream.

Paltypus Pool which is a permanent waterhole.
The Fortescue River
Another shot of us canoing on the Fortescue River. I am resting and trying to pose for the photograph in this one.
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Monday, September 7, 2009

Camping free - for free

I have made many references to our free camping and I need to explain the reason.

It is regarded as somewhat of a badge of courage among campers to free camp as much as possible. That is why I tend to emphasise on the blog the best free camp spots we have found.

We travel with the campers bible called Camping Australia, which is now up to the fifth edition. It lists all the free rest places in every state. Our hardback edition of Camping 4 also has many photos, which the softcover version doesn't have. It is the best thing we have ever bought by way of a travel book. Campers everywhere compare experiences and tell each other the best free camping spots.

There is a general feeling that "soft campers" tend to use caravan parks all the time while the "real campers" free camp. The soft campers tend to be the Winnebago and campervan crowd. We are fully self-contained, carrying toilet and shower so why not free camp as much as possible?

Some people carry a portable shower which they use out in the wild. We have a solar shower which I have illustrated earlier on the blog.

Photo shows a couple we met Shirley and Ken who have been travelling for some time since their retirement. They tent when travelling in Australia. They travel within OZ one year and overseas the next.

A creative use of a boat for carrying firewood.

This is not a shot of free camping but very reasonably priced camping in a sort of nature reserve where the charge is $7.50 per couple per night. One is allowed to stay up to 3 months. And some do!!!! What they find to do for that long is beyond me. They are usually keen fisherpeople.

It is Cleaverville bush camping just north-east of Karratha. We stayed two nights and that was just enough. I need more excitement.
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mood shots - last of Karrijini NP

This is a lovely shot of the mirrored reflection of the cliff in the water. Sort on Monetesque I think.

Andrew in the altogether before the others arrived at the rock pool in Weano Gorge.

I am sucker for a beautiful sunset.

A view down into Regan's Pool at Hancock Gorge.

I promise these are the last of the Karijini photos. But the NP lives on in my memory.
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Action shots of the active campers

Here are some more active shots of us rather than just being behind the camera. We are canoeing on the Fortescue River at Millsteam-Chichester NP and Crosspool campsite. The canoe is for loan to the campers.

Nikki braving the ladder in Hancock Gorge at Karrijini NP.

Wading through water at Hancock Gorge further on.

Andrew climbing into Handrail Pool, I am sitting on the ledge taking the photo.
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