Thursday, August 6, 2009

On the Road Again.... Perth to Exmouth

Well, after a night of farewells, we left Fremantle feeling a little under the weather, to say the least. We drove up past Cottlesloe and up Highway 71 heading for Lancelin which was a sleepy fishing town - beautiful, but not a lot there. For most of the trip I resumed my much loved position:

From Lancelin we headed to the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park - a great time to see them in the afternoon light. It's believed the Pinnacles were created millions of years ago as seashells were broken down into sand and then eroded by water and wind. I woke myself enough to head out to see these unusual formations of limestone located in amongst the sanddunes where we walked / drove around and took some good pics:

By the time we finished it was getting late so we headed to our free camp spot at Tuart Reserve. It didn't take us long to get back into the swing of things and get ourselves set up for the night. Being rather tired we were in bed by 7pm and then awake at 10:30pm thinking it must be nearly morning... but no, back to sleep we had to go!
The next morning we continued past many small towns to Geraldton. Headed to the info centre but found there wasn't a lot to do (as many people had told us before we set off) so we headed straight for Kalbarri - a detour off the mainroad. There is a lot to do in Kalbarri so we organised a few activities and decided to stay for a couple of days in this lovely beachside town. Unfortunately, being peak season we found the caravan parks were full that night so we booked into one for the following night and instead drove out to a free spot about 70km away on the Murchison River.. This was a HUGE free 24 hour camp spot and there were lots and lots of other campers (mainly caravans) out there.
Next morning we awoke at 7am so we could drive back to Kalbarri and watch the Pelican feeding . Two pelicans showed up for the feed and we got to listen to a good spiel about them:

After this we headed to the Gorge to do an 8km loop trek around it. This was very spectacular and we got some great views of the gorge throughout the walk which started up high...

"Nature's Window"

...and ended up right down the bottom on a sandy base. You can see me in this picture which gives it a bit of scale:

After this we had to walk along the rivers edge, making our way via rock ledges. Some parts were rather tricky!

But it was really beautiful.

That night we watched the sunset and looked at many of the lookouts along the coast - Red Bluff, Natural Bridge, Castle Island and Mushroom Rocks.
The next morning was another early start to another beautiful morning. We headed out to meet our guide at 7:45am to do a canoe safari along the Murchison River with five other couples.

We drove in a 4WD for about 30mins up the river where we were dropped off and we paddled for about 45 mins down the river where we met our guide Colin who was cooking us up a mean breakfast.

After refueling we paddled another half hour or so, stopped for a bit and then did a final leg to meet Colin who took us back to our cars. It was great fun - vey tranquil and calm and gloriously sunny. We did encounter a few sandbars but coordinated ourselves pretty well and managed not to argue any of the way!
We did some fishing, snuck into the motor camp for a quick shower then headed to Jacques Point to watch some surfers:

Following this we drove to a rest stop and had toasted marshamallows in front of the fire.

The next morning we allowed ourselves a sleep in til 8am and woke up to a lazy breaky of toast and coffee.
We continued up the coast towards Shark Bay. We turned off at the Overlander Roadhouse and drove to Hamelin Bay to see the Stromatolites. According to Google - "Stromatolites are rock-like structures built by microbes (single-celled cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae). Shark Bay’s stromatolites are only 2,000 to 3,000 years old, but they are similar to life forms found on Earth up to 3.5 billion years ago! They provide a unique insight into what the world was like at the dawn of time."
They helped pave the way for evolution as the expelled Oxygen and built up the level of this in the air enough for new species to evolve.
Viewing platform:

Stromatolites in action:

We drove up to Peron Peninsula and stopped at Nanga for lunch. We then stopped at Shell Beach which is made entirely of cockle shells - some up to 5m deep!

We drove on to Denham and stopped at Fowlers Beach for the night.
The next day (1st of August already!!!) we awoke early at 6:30am in order to make it to Monkey Mia in time for the 7:30am feeding of the dolphins. When we got there there were already quite a few people there and many more by 8am when they actually feed them.
There were a number of friendly pelicans who got very close to us and were happy to pose for photos:

The dolphins arrived a few at a time over about 45 mins and by 8am there were about 5 adults (females) and 2 babies.

Only the adults were fed and they are only allowed to be fed up to three times per day.

We didn't hang round in Monkey Mia but headed out of Denham and up to Canarvon about 300kms North. It was pretty barren scenery and that stretch of road had the most amount of roadkill we've seen so far (kangaroos and emus mostly).
Canarvon is known for growing great bananas!
We checked out One Mile Jetty in Canarvon and drove out to Miaboolya Beach to camp.
The next morning we drove up to Quobba Point where we saw the most spectacular blowholes!! It was a pretty treacherous area and apparently a few lives have been lost off the rocks.
And here's a video:

After this, we decided to drive north to Coral Bay. It was a fairly uneventful drive but the land was dotted with hundreds of termite mounds - quite a funny site!

We checked in at a caravan park as no free camping in Coral Bay and then headed for a quick arvo swim before dinner.
The next morning we headed out to the bay for a snorkel - my first time ever, amazingly! I was rather nervous at first and my breathing felt a bit Darth Vaderous but I got used to it and it was AWESOME!!!! Thank you for the flippers Lynda! We went out to the reef a little bit and saw a number of fish and some cool coral formations. It was a good taste and left me ready to do some more in Exmouth.
We decided to head straight to Exmouth to try and get a camping spot in Cape Range National Park. We stopped at Visitors Centre and found out the National Park was full so booked into a caravan park just out of the park for two nights as we knew there was lots to do in the area.
We went up Vlamingh Lighthouse and managed to see a group of whales out in the sea which was pretty amazing. Couldn't get any good shots with our camera unfortunately.

The next morning we awoke to another beautiful day and headed straight for the National Park. We drove to the visitors centre to get info on the best spots to snorkel and booked in for a boat trip up Yardie Creeek Gorge at 11am.
We called in at Turquoise Bay and decided we had enough time for a quick snorkel. Here's me all snorkelled up:

A "cheeky" shot:

Dave proving he was there too (and see me doing the ungainly backward water entry):

Upon entering the water the first thing I saw was a big turtle!! Great to see but we ended up losing track of time and had to rush quickly to make out boat trip. We were the last ones there but at least we made it!
It was a lovely trip up the gorge:

We managed to see lots of native plants and animals including some Egrets:

and a Rock Wallaby (with her joey):

Following this we drove back to Turquoise Bay to do the drift snorkel where you enter the water at one end and let the current pull you to the other end where you get out (before being sucked away out to see forever!) This was an amazing snorkel with heaps of fish and coral life to see. We did this twice and then drove to Osprey Bay to try our hand at fishing:

Unfortunately we had no luck and drove back to camp at dusk - not the best time to be driving because of all the Roos about. There were so many lined up along the sides of the road - an awesome sight and we made sure we drove slowly.
The next morning we drove back into the park to do the snorkel at Oyster Stacks which we had missed the day before as it is very shallow and needs to be snorkelled in high tide. We swam around for a while but then I had to get out as the current was pretty strong. We did see a huge bright blue starfish plus a multitude of other colourful fish.
We stopped to take a photo of a Sturt Desert Pea which are a wildflower beginning to bloom all over the place now - very pretty!

We drove back into Exmouth and saw an Emu with her chicks right outside the army base.

We stopped at Town Beach and Learmonth Jetty where Dave had a quick fish. We then drove out onto the Main Highway again and as the light was fading and the landscape changed we were treated to incredible colours on the red sand and green scrub. Another paradise evening in Australia!!!


  1. Great to see you guys back on the road again. My, that photo of you completely out of it in the passenger seat brought back some memories Ness!!

    Miss you guys loads. Wishing you much more sunshine xxx

  2. so many BEAUTIFUL pictures - i love reading your blog and lusting after all the amazing sights you are seeing! miss you guys, glad i can keep up with your travels through your blog - keep it up when you can! xox sep/sarah & dan xox