Onto the Pilbara Coast

Where are we ? http://goo.gl/maps/XZRJf
Tuesday 14 May 2013
We spent the day exploring the delights of Carnarvon. Their historic 1 mile jetty is their big claim to fame although it was built in the late 1800’s and is definitely showing its age. We were advised by a local motorcyclist to visit their Blow Holes on the coast “just up the road” . He cautioned us to be very careful of the bends toward the end of the access road. The visit turned out to be a 160 Km round trip and the fearsome bends turned out to be about half a dozen long, full speed, sweepers!!!.  Me-thinks the riders in this part of the world are too accustomed to straight roads!. We came back along the Gascoyne River where large scale irrigation had all manner of crops growing out of the desert including bananas, mangos, tomatoes and all manner of fruit and vegetables . Truly a sight to behold.

Part of the Historic "one mile" jetty at Carnarvon showing its age

Part of the Historic “one mile” jetty at Carnarvon showing its age

One of the Blow Holes in action at Point Quobba 80 Km north of Carnarvon

One of the Blow Holes in action at Point Quobba 80 Km north of Carnarvon

Bananas in the desert at Carnarvon WA on the Gascoyne River

Bananas in the desert at Carnarvon WA on the Gascoyne River

Wednesday 15 May 2013
The 400k ride from Carnarvon to Exmouth was uneventful in cool, cloudy and sometimes wet weather. The country was mostly flat and featureless with low trees and scrub. The country subtly changed however every now and then. We came upon a long stretch where large termite nests 2m+ high popped up everywhere amongst the low scrub. They made the countryside look like a giant cemetery. Very spectacular and eerie. Another time the scenery morphed into flat heath type country then, another time bare red dirt. We saw lots of feral goats, sheep and cattle feeding along the road verges and had one minor deviation to avoid a sheep who decided to dawdle across the road in front of us. We stopped in at Coral Bay on the coast which was jam packed with Grey Nomads and their massive caravan rigs. It was a pretty spot but we did not like the crowds and were happy to move on the more hospitable Exmouth.   We are spending the day here in Exmouth tomorrow to take in some of the local sights before heading off on a long 600km leg to Karratha on Thursday.

Grey Nomad alley at Coral Bay WA - Count the satellite dishes !!

Grey Nomad alley at Coral Bay WA – Count the satellite dishes !!

A friendly lunch guest at Coral bay WA

A friendly lunch guest at Coral bay WA

A few of the thousands of eerie termite mounds dotted along the road to Exmouth WA

A few of the thousands of eerie termite mounds dotted along the road to Exmouth WA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off into the remote North West WA

Where are we? >>http://goo.gl/maps/Gy3T3

Friday 10 may 2013
We slept through another deluge dry and snug at Kalbarri waking to a fine morning.  We left early so we could backtrack a bit to look at the spectacular cliffs along the Kalbarri headland. The 400km trip from Kalbarri to Denham was mostly straight, flat and treeless. We met up with three Honda Goldwing + trailer rigs at the Billabong Roadhouse. They were also doing the big loop in the same direction as us and hailed from Canberra. They were carrying a large amount of camping gear with them . Definitely not mean and lean like us 🙂 We arrived at Denham around 2pm and booked a cruise and a lift to Monkey Mia for tomorrow. There is also a big fishing competition on in town this weekend. We enjoyed a home cooked meal in our beachfront unit as we watched out our front door spellbound as a family of emus walked down the middle of the road.

Some of the spectacular Kalbarri Cliffs

Some of the spectacular Kalbarri Cliffs

Our fellow RoundOz travellers on Honda Goldwings

Our fellow RoundOz travellers on Honda Goldwings

Emu family out for an evening walk at Denham WA

Emu family out for an evening walk at Denham WA

Bangers and mash on the communal barbie at Denham

Bangers and mash on the communal barbie at Denham

Saturday 11 May 2013
We took a lay day in Denham and got a lift the 28 Km to see the famed dolphins at Monkey Mia. We then had a great day on the catamaran ARISTOCAT with three other couples spotting dolphins, a dugong and a giant Manta ray. We also visited the Blue Lagoon floating pearl factory. Had a cheap dinner at the fishing competition marque (seafood and salad). Listened and danced to “Leather and Lace” and met up with a couple of fellow Grey Nomads Max and Roe.
A good night !

Feeding the dolphins at Monkey Mia

Feeding the dolphins at Monkey Mia

The floating pearl factory on Shark Bay

The floating pearl factory on Shark Bay

A rare dugong surfaces for air in Shark Bay

A rare dugong surfaces for air in Shark Bay

Sunday 12 May 2013
We set off for Carnarvon from Denham on Mothers day with the weather clear but very windy. Denham is our most westerly destination of our trip and is the western most town on the Australian mainland. From now on we start making our way back East again. We also crossed the 26th Parallel today as we headed north. The 400 km trip to Carnarvon was mostly straight and through low treeless scrubby country. Here is a short HelmetCam video to give you an idea of what the country looks like. (Turn your sound right down before you play it as I forgot to edit out the wind noise and replace it with some cool music and I can’t be bothered going back and uploading it all again 🙂 )  http://youtu.be/nKQKz9QMHqw    In spite of this, the country is still very scenic with the occasional hill giving spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. On one such hill there was an amazing and unexpected collection of garden gnomes acting as sentinels looking out over the country. They were presumably left there by fellow travellers and on closer inspection, each one had been inscribed in memory of some loved one. Very poignant!. This area is very remote and anyone working in this region qualifies for a remote location tax rebate. There are no towns between Denham and Carnarvon with the only civilisation being two roadhouses in between. There are surprisingly few bugs in this part of the world and we have not had to clean our visors for over a week now. This is unheard of back east where every hour or so would be the norm. We saw lots of feral goats along the side of the road and fresh kangaroo road-kill every kilometre or so. A couple of truckies gave us dire warnings about kangaroos and goats darting out from the side of the road so we spent most of the day hugging the white line down the middle of the road to give us maximum reaction time in the event of the sudden appearance of a Skippy or a Billy. In spite of their warnings we did not see any live kangaroos all day. Judging from the huge number of recent kills along the road however, there warning is to be taken seriously. There is no way we would travel late afternoon or at night. We are spending the day in Carnarvon tomorrow to check out the local sights before heading off again for Exmouth on Tuesday. We spent a couple of hours in the dark tonight and very nearly missed out on dinner  thanks to a general power blackout. We had just finished our luke warm dinner by candlelight in the motel restaurant when the power came back on.

The gnome sentinels

The gnome sentinels

Top of the world - Enroute to Carnarvon WA

Top of the world – Enroute to Carnarvon WA

 

 

 

 

 

A great ride to Kalbarri WA

Hi everyone,
We have now been away from home for 30 days and have travelled 7,229 Kilometres.
We had torrential rain and wild winds all night at the small coastal fishing village of Cervantes (we were warm and snug in our motel room) but we were a little concerned at what the morning would hold particularly given the Severe wind warnings that were being broadcast . Morning saw the rain had stopped  but not the wind which was still wild and gusty. We decided to take a 60km detour inland to get away from our planned coastal Indian Ocean Highway route to pick up the Brand Highway more inland.  We were rewarded with some beautiful undulating country with low scrubby trees which were mostly beautiful banksias. We experience some wild rain squalls which generally passed in 10 minutes or so as we reached the Brand Highway and headed north again toward our next planned overnight stop at Geraldton. We encountered our first serious road train (three trailers) during one of these squalls which actually turned out to be two of them (six trailers) travelling in convoy. Passing them both in the wind and rain turned out to be an interesting exercise. Check out the video. http://youtu.be/k2DjKvAffcI When we reached Eneabba we decided, after enjoying “The best coffee on the Brand!” at the Eneabba Roadhouse,  to take another inland diversion to a place called Three Springs then on to Minganew where we saw the longest grain storage shed we have ever seen (It must have been at least 500 metres long). This was obviously a major grain railhead and wheat growing area evidenced by the wide wheat fields we rode through.  As we turned back toward the coast the winds and rain squalls noticeably increased in severity until we reached the coast again at Dongara 60 km south of Geraldton. The run up into Geraldton was interesting with wild gusty cross winds all the way breaking into a fierce storm just as we arrived at our Motel for the night.  A challenging but exhilarating ride with some magnificent scenery along the way.
We experienced torrential rain and wild winds again overnight in Geraldton and were bracing ourselves for another uncomfortable ride in the morning. We were pleasantly surprised when we opened the door of our room in the morning and saw the sun 🙂 We set off for our short run to Kalbarri after a moving visit to the HMAS Sydney II memorial on the hill overlooking Geraldton particularly when Ros located the name of her Great Uncle Max in the memorial wall. We again decided to take the “scenic route” and took a 60 Km inland diversion and were rewarded by seeing some wonderful undulating wheat and sheep country in the huge Chapman Valley. The landscape was also occasionally filled with some very distinctive flat top hills or Mesas. We enjoyed a stop at the historic Sanford Homestead (1853) enroute back to the coast lunching at the small coastal fishing village of Port Gregory. This was a very unusual place with the Port formed by a natural reef running for about 5 Kms along parallel to the coastline. The wild seas were crashing over the reef some 500m offshore whilst the “harbour”  area was relatively quite inside the reef. The run into Kalbarri saw some very nice coastal pastures and seaviews. All in all another great day’s riding.

Now that's what I call a picnic table

Now that’s what I call a picnic table

The giant grain shed at Mingenew WA

The giant grain shed at Mingenew WA

Fort Denison Beach

Fort Denison Beach

Guess which way the prevailing wind blows - Straight off the Indian Ocean!

Guess which way the prevailing wind blows – Straight off the Indian Ocean!

A coastal rural scene on the road to Geraldton

A coastal rural scene on the road to Geraldton

RIP Great Uncle Max (one of the 654 lost souls on the HMAS Sydney II)

RIP Great Uncle Max (one of the 654 lost souls on the HMAS Sydney II)

The old Sanford Homestead (1853)

The old Sanford Homestead (1853)

The amazing Port Gregory WA

The amazing Port Gregory WA

Sunset over Kalbarri WA

Sunset over Kalbarri WA