Been There, Done That (or have we?)

Trip Start Oct 31, 2013
Trip End May 01, 2014

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Friday, December 6, 2013

The rain in Geraldton soon stopped – a bit of a squall really; heavy but brief. Last year we travelled down this same coast so we decided to revisit the places we liked but also to explore the places we had missed.  Geraldton is a great town.  It's actually the largest town between Perth and Darwin, a distance of 4000km/2500m, with a population of 40,000 and in my blog last year I wrote about Monsignor Hawes, the architect, and the memorial to the ship, Sydney II; so if you’re keen you can refresh your memories!!

We are still managing the free camping in the Rest Areas along the road but as we are travelling the 'wrong way’ i.e. north (most people are going south as it’s too hot in the north), we are meeting less and less fellow travellers.  We were fortunate to meet some grey nomads in a quite out-of-the-way rest area and had a jolly Happy Hour or two.  There we met Joe who was a cattle station manager in north Queensland (land of Joe Harman for Town Like Alice fans) who was really interesting – telling us about his work and also yet another, less well known, deliberately introduced species which is now a ‘class 2 pest plant’ particularly in Queensland; the Prickly Acacia.

En route to Kalbarri we came across a place called Lynton – I can’t find the origin of the name – and looked at the National Trust site of Lynton Convict Hiring Depot, a sort of archaeological site, part of which had been restored, and the most intact example in Western Australia.  In WA the convict system was based on the idea of rehabilitation; at Lynton most of them had their ticket-of-leave from Fremantle prison and were hired to work by local settlers and Geraldton mine. This depot was unsuccessful and almost as soon as it was completed it was closed.  It was in a most remote, hot and windswept spot and must have been an awful place to be sent to – not a good place to be posted as a guard let alone as a convict!

 We approached Kalbarri NP from the south this time and drove into the coastal viewpoints.  There are parts of this coastline which are so stunning that you run out of descriptions for them and the photos don’t really do them justice.  Here were cliffs and gorges, arches and stacks, turquoise blue seas with white foam waves crashing on the rocks – fabulous……

However, Kalbarri will stay in my memory for other reasons – I was breathalysed for the first time in my life!  Here you can be stopped randomly; in fact the 2 policemen were standing in the middle of the road and stopping everyone.  And it was only early afternoon (Sunday lunch)!!

Up to Carnarvon where we did our Wwoofing last year – the land was dry and parched as they still haven’t had any rain.  It appeared that several sheep stations were selling stock as there was no food for them.   We were told that Guy and Susie have sold their station, Wahroonga, and had their farewell party.  At Carnarvon we went to the Space and Technology museum, recently opened by Buzz Aldrin.  The nearby Carnarvon Tracking Station was built to support NASA’s space programmes.   It was the last station to communicate with the space capsules leaving earth orbit – so had communicated directly with Apollo 11.  The museum was run and manned by volunteers who were immensely proud of it’s history. 

Carnarvon is home to thriving prawn, scallop, crab and fishing industries (the local chippie does great snapper) and also plantations of fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly bananas.  The plantation industry is worth millions but there are problems and, as usual, it’s water. The Gascoyne River is the longest river in WA and is unusual in that the water sits unseen below the riverbed. Occasionally the river flows visibly, after heavy rains. The water filters through the river sand to underground aquifers, and from here it’s drawn for the town supply and the plantations.  The water is seriously depleted at the moment – there was a heat wave earlier this year and now the only water available to irrigate is high in salt. 

However there are still enough bananas to make delicious banana ice-cream at Bumbaks plantation so we felt obliged to try it – bought some banana jam too!!
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Cathy on

Glad you're having such an interesting trip - it all looks lovely and hot! It's actually not too bad here. Simon & Freddie & I walked across Porlock marsh to Bossington and back today. Blue sky and mild weather, lunch in the pub. Going to Torquay on Xmas eve for three days - doggie Xmas with 3 dogs and Mark & Soph's new puppy! Hope you have a great time - Happy Christmas from us both.xx

Sue and Malcolm on

Glad to see you are having a marvellous adventure. I am sure you will have a marvellous memorable Christmas. We shall be thinking of you and raising a glass or two. Malcolm collects my Christmas present on Monday - a four wheel jeep so I can keep working whatever this winter throws at us here in good old blighty! Happy Christmas.

Pat and Clive on

Pleased to see you are having very interesting time. The coast looks fantastic. Friday we walked to Blue Anchor via Dunster. Great walk, bit muddy and coastline very different to yours - no blue sea!!! Just organising our Boxing Day walk to Dunster and The Stags Head - will miss you, but will raise a glass to you. Have a good Christmas.

mary Bird on

Happy Christmas! Doesn't Santa get a bit overheated and his reindeers rather thirsty when they have to deliver presents to Down Under? Hope you manage to celebrate despite the lack of snow and log fires! The sea looks wonderful and the pink lake impressive. Beats the grey of Blue Anchor! XX

Virginia and Martin on

Love the pink lake and your wonderful photos of birds. We have lots of sun here but were walking in snow yesterday on the top of Calar mountain!
Glad you're having a great time. Enjoy Christmas. X

Jane and dave on

Happy Christmas1!!
Just finished champagne breakfast and raised a glass to you.
lovely and sunny here this morning but I'm sure it will be chilly when we venture out. Tim has offered to do the dog walk, think we are all secretly grateful!
Thank you so much for Evie's lovely card, she was thrilled and we are now going to look at your photos and find you on the m,ap,
Lots love from the ever growing SmithsXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Jo and Gibb on

Happy Christmas to you both! Thanks for the blog. Looks a bit warmer than it is here in the gails and rain. We had a lovely Christmas with the family and look forward to baby Ted in the New Year. All is well. House move going ahead slowly but we hope to see you in Middle Burrow when you get back. Wedding plans also progressing well!
All our love

Jo and Gibb

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