Sunday, 17 May 2015

Tom Price to Derby

(click the map for details)
Yellow route: Tom Price to Derby - 2 190 km
Total so far: 18 030 km

We started this part of the journey with one of WA’s highlights – the Karijini national park (NP). The system of Gorges is fantastic and quite unique. Another cyclone was announced in the Exmouth area for the beginning of May and people staying in Cape Range NP had to be evacuated. This led to a influx of these tourists to Karijini. Over this very weekend the Karijini Experience took place, a cultural event with different happenings such as an outdoor Opera, tours with Indigenous guides and a series of adventure-travel films. This suited us perfectly in the rainy and overcast weather. We saw four very good movies with different crazy travel stories. Walking, crawling and climbing the gorges was spectacular. And once the sun was out again, the colours and shapes of the rocks appeared even more brilliant and unique. For the "Spider Walk" we didn’t take our camera and therefore we can’t offer any pictures of this most loved walk.

 Kilmana Gorge – Karijini NP

Road in Karijini after a night of heavy rain – sticks perfectly everywhere, car, shoes, clothes.....

Fabulous camping just out of Karijini – Alberto Tognolini Lookout

The drive to Port Hedland wasn’t very eventful but interesting for us as we listened to an audiobook which we can highly recommend. Outback Stations - The life and times of Australia’s biggest cattle and sheep stations by Evan McHugh. It comes in 11 chapters and we were once more amazed by the size of this country and how people have successfully survived in very remote and harsh areas. 

Port Hedland opened a new world for us with the busy harbour which ships off iron ore in enormous quantities. The operation Seafarers offers tours and lets you hop on the boat which taxis the ships' crews off and on the vessels. This allow them a shore leave and a rest in the mission of the Seafarers. It is a worldwide organisation which makes the wellbeing of the seafarers their goal in the first place where the church aspect is second.

 Around 12 ships leave the harbour daily – most of them loaded with up to 200'000 tonnes of ore

Seafarer's personal welcoming

Also in Port Hedland we witnessed the famous Stairs to the Moon and on the way to the lookout, Cooks Point, we were amazed by the business of the hermit crabs.

Broome was surprisingly nice and the grocery shopping was great, too. The Green Mango is probably the best cafe in town and meanwhile we had two lunches and a breakfast there. After a noisy night at the Roebuck Plains Roadhouse we stayed three peaceful nights at the Broome Bird Observatory. This is such an interesting place and the very knowledgable staff gets you into birdwatching in no time.

Roebuck Bay where the migratory shore birds are counted by the Broome observatory staff, every day

The Dampier Peninsula is often visited in a one-day tour from Broome. Fortunately. we are not so much under time pressure and allowed 5 days and 5 nights on the Peninsula. Apart from the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises wherever we were, we got a good insight into the interesting industry of Perls at Cygnet Bay, the only productive Pearlfarm in Australia which is open to visitors.

 Sunrise at Cape Leveque

 Private beach at the fabulous Goombaragin Eco Retreat

One of two available camp spots

Oliver with a drip torch, assisting John with the burn-off at Goombaragin 

 A fantastic tour through the pearl farm at Cygnet Bay.; we even got an idea of how expensive the pearls are and what method is applied to set a price.

We got supply for the Gibb River Road (GRR) in Broome but didn’t want to start this adventure before seeing  and enjoying the Horizontal Falls from above during a scenic flight from Derby.

 We had the pilot to ourselves during the 100 minutes flight over the Horizontal Falls and the Buccaneer Archipelago

 Horizontal Falls

 Uninhabitable land in Stokes Bay, just out of Derby towards King Sound

Baramundi-breeding farm

Boab trees will follow us through the GRR

(In-) famous prison tree in Derby

Monday, 4 May 2015

Cervantes to Tom Price

Yellow route: Cervantes to Tom Price - 3280 km
Total so far: 17'380 km

After a pleasant but grown-in little road from Nambung Station to Cervantes, which took us a while to get through, as Oliver was cutting quite some branches or even part of trees, we just made it as far as Cliff Head for a peaceful camping. In Geraldton we didn’t do much apart from stocking up with food, water and fuel. The camping at the well known Coronation Beach was pretty full and therefore not as pleasant as it could have been. 

For once the driver had the easier job on the way out of Nambung Station and no ticks afterwards

The Kalbarri Coastal Cliffs offered pretty amazing scenery and lovely walks along the coast. The rain of the last week made burst the flora: flowers and a lot of very green meadows but also insects were the result. Hence we constantly have been wearing our fly nets ever since as we don’t like the particularity of the Australian flies, scrambling in every uncovered orifice which potentially offers some moisture or protein for them….

The fly nets prevented us from going mad with these flies

In Kalbarri we were impressed by the vastness of Murchison River’s mouth, delivering a constant flow of brown water into the clear blue sea. With 820km of length Murchison River is the second longest in WA (Gascoyne River being the longest with 978km). On the following day we got to see more of it in the stunning Kalbarri Gorges. Due to the floods some of the walks were cut short, but we still get done some decent walking in beautiful weather and therefore the colours were just amazing. 
Murchison river flows into the Indian Ocean

Gorge in Kalbarri NP

The next highlight was to follow shortly. After a wonderful camping at the highly rated Hamelin Station (Wikicamps shows a rating of 4.8 out of 5) we headed off to Fran├žois Peron NP. On the way to the parks entrance there was much to see. We started with the Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool, the picture perfect Shell Beach, the ancient Coquels Quarry and the Eagle Bluff where we spotted two types of sharks, dolphins, an Eagle Ray and some unknown fish. Unfortunately no Dugong, maybe we were not patient enough. We spent 3 days in the park, but camped twice at South Gregory campground, which we really liked. The walk and the lookout platform at Cape Peron were so nice that we could have spent the entire afternoon there but didn’t for the flies.
On our way back we just had to see the dolphins at Monkey Mia. Even though it was one of the most touristic places we came across so far, it was worth it and they treat these lovely creatures in a sustainable manner. We made sure to go back to Hamelin Station on the way back in order to meet up with the lovely hosts Shane and Jason.

Hamelin Station - a traveller's dream

Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool

Coquels quarry - the bricks were used to build houses and last....

 Unique Shell beach

Eagle Bluff – a wonderful spot to observe Marine life 

 Cape Peron - 360° view at its best

Camping at Cape Peron NP

For once we had a real sun-downer

What a fabulous place to have lunch - unfortunately we preferred to sit inside because of the flies:
Ocean Restaurant near Denham

Carnarvon was very much a service stop for us before we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. We approached the Ningaloo reef from Coral Bay and first had to do a Scuba Diving refresher course as our last dive was in Hawaii some 13 years ago. Apart from the two very enjoyable dives we got the chance to swim/snorkel with 3 Manta Rays which was an amazing experience. After the busy Coral Bay we enjoyed the remote camping at Maggie’s beach in Waaroora Station very much as well as the snorkelling next to the beach we had to ourselves.
For the famous Navy Pier dive we went to Exmouth but the cyclone Olwin destroyed part of the pier and therefore no diving is possible at the moment. As an alternative we did two dives on the upper Ningaloo reef and saw not only more colourful corals but also more fish. At the very start we were face to face with a white-tipped reef shark. The snorkelling in the Cape Range NP at Turquoise bay and the spectacular Oyster Stacks was fabulous and just like swimming in a aquarium.

We think that camping can't get any better than that !

Another spectacular sunset at Waaroora Station

Diving at the Ningaloo reef

From Exmouth we went straight to Tom Price and got a new spare tyre (the old one got an irreparable cut from a stick down at Waaroora Station) and couldn’t resist to drive up Mt.Nameless. A real 4 WD to the summit which offered a magnificent view of the Rio Tinto mine, the town and the adjacent hills and valleys.

 View from Mount Nameless, Tom Price

Iron-ore mine Rio Tinto