Making the most of the last few days in Oz
Trip Start Dec 03, 2013
25Trip End Mar 05, 2014
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Geraldton is the biggest town between Perth and Darwin but still only has a population of less than 40000 yet covers an area bigger than Chelmsford.
We spent the day checking out the place and really loved what we found although driving in traffic for the first time in two months was a little unnerving at first.
We soon found a walk way out on a breakwater where a large bulk grain carrier was being guided into its berth by 3 tugs.
With the town beach right behind the main drag loads of schools were using the sea as their swimming pool
Loads of play equipment for the kids and the normal brilliant street art and furniture makes the fusion of industry and urban living pretty cool.
Overlooking the town is yet another memorial to HMAS Sydney 2 and is a stunning piece of art/sculptor/architecture. It's fair to say we have seen quite a few memorials to this incident and hope they learn from it!
This is the first town in WA it would be worth having a motorcycle or push bike other than a MX or MTB as you can actually have a choice of roads outside of the town to disappear out into the countryside.
The Akubra looks a bit out of place here but with the sun shining so brightly it's staying on.
20th February 2014
Checked out the Geraldton tourist info centre . Nice renovated building but more interested in selling bits n bobs than providing as much info as we have found in other offices
Next stop the museum open every day apart from bank holidays and of course this morning as staff had to attend an important meeting.
Open again just after midday so we checked out the new apartment development around the marina, while we waited. Very nice but over priced to the extent that Phase 2 which should be complete hasn't been started.
One or two very nice boats in the marina. So many boats seem to be towed and can be stored at home so not much need for the marina.
Looked at a few salaries, $35K pa for gardeners labourer summed it up.
Concluded Aussie economy is a bit like the French with so many employed by the State, but the Aussies can afford it and the Frogs can't .
Lunch on the Esplanade followed by a tour of the museum.
Well worth the wait. Had excellent guided tour of the ship wreck collection. Some mind boggling stories of rescues and sheer survival exercises in the 16/17th century.
HMAS Sydney story and search for the sunken ships very interesting as were the theories of what happened. Wally's interpretation was that the Krauts didn't play cricket, the Aussies were too honest and got well and truly shafted.
Nearly ejected for over staying our welcome as is normal practice but worth another visit.
21 February 2014
Exploring Geraldton again first stop the Rock Lobster Cooperative. At $300M pa turnover, that's a lot of lobsters to shift.
Excellent presentation and tour round the distribution facility, from arrival, sorting to storing and dispatch. We had to wear covered shoes and hairnets but the whole tour was access all areas.
Anywhere to Asian capitals live lobster delivered within 30 hours.
Followed by morning coffee plane spotting not that there was a lot to spot but it did fill in a little time gap before our appointment at the Met Office where Jan had organised a tour
We were supposed to book in advance, not just roll up at their spanking new facility on the far side of the airport, but Patrick was more than happy to show us round and assist with his observations.
Wally was even entrusted to launch a weather balloon into the clear blue sky.
Again very informative and well worth the fee.....it was free.
A little shopping followed by a lengthy telephone conversation with HSBC security who were concerned our credit card was being misused. It was!!! Exit one credit card for the time being.
Time for a dip in the Indian Ocean and another day whizzed by.
22nd February 2014
Geraldton must have made quite a good impression as we are booked in for a 5th night
First stop the jet wash to remove some of the crud the bus has accrued after nearly 13000Km without a wash.
Next stop the Catholic Cathedral a fantastic building externally but while the interior is superbly maintained it could do with a make over. (If BK is reading Pop Packs and Linear TH)
With a New Zealand Wantangi Festival in the park we couldn't believe the number of Kiwis who appeared to join their celebrations.
A visit to the grounds of the theatre with its very accurate Iris sundial. No lack of sun here as it was knocking on 40C today.
Excellent lunch in Toppolinio's where we marvelled at the lack of people around the town then back to the festival and then the beach for a cooling dip and laze in the sun.
A bit surreal swimming around off the town beach with a huge bulk carrier manoeuvring close by, a grain train arriving, pleasure boats, flying fish and parrots all around.
Lots of socialising on the seafront with all the many BBQ's being used. Wally vows to return the following morning to rustle up some egg and bacon.
A quick shower using the beach front facilities then reposition the bus along the seafront to cook tea, grab our deck chairs and settle down at the beachside Sun City Cinema for an outdoor screening of The Rocky Horror Show
23rd February 2014
Our last job in Geraldton was to return to the Esplanade for a fry up on the public BBQ,s.
Arriving at about 0900 it was busier than the previous evening with loads of activities taking place from Yacht racing, jet skiing,fishing, to hordes of youngsters getting involved with the life saving and surf club.
Fantastic to see and a fantastic atmosphere and the fry up wasn't too bad either.
Without doubt Geraldton is our favourite destination so far.
A quick connection to the free wifi outside a very busy Dome restaurant and we continued on our way south next destination Port Denison at the mouth of the Irwin River.
With the outback up the road the soil lost its red colour, no more desert just plenty of arable land and a few farm buildings. Still not much traffic and a sense of spaciousness.
Port Denison is a small fishing village and sea side town with a few rather nice properties and as we are used to a very nice shore line with loads of social facilities
Very sociable people too and when Wally scrounged an onion from the local cafe they were more than obliging and let him have it foc for his cheek!
A little bit of a surf here and we had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves in the sea before preparing for the ritual homage to the setting sun. (no uek in this instance)
24th February 2014
While the caravan park is a bit on the cosy side we are parked facing the sea and the facilities are spot on so we decided to stay another day in Port Denison/Dongara and explore the Heritage Trails between the two settlements which are on either side of the Irwin River.
Nice and quiet along the coast road and through a small wetlands area teaming with birds from
Pelicans to Black Swans, a couple of lookouts giving superb views of the coast and newer housing developments.
Into sleepy Dongara. We had hoped to visit the museum but that was only only from 10-12.
In the town some really nice houses next to real pikey dumps, all a bit of a shambles.
With an IGA in town but no bakers we had hoped to buy some bread for a picnic but with nothing taking our fancy we carried on the trail and found another supermarket but again it was hard work trying to find decent bread.
Kind of sorted we sat on the verandah of Russ' cottage the birthplace of the first white kid born in WA and now restored.
Pre dinner swim and body surfing session on Granny Beac
Dinner in the pub winner of WA's best Steak Sandwich was pretty good.
Most parks we have used have been Pet Free zones not this one unfortunately as the pesky whining pair of Poodles behind woke us three times during the night!!!
25th February 2014
Emerging bleary eyed after a lousy nights kip we hit the road again for the 150Km hop down the coast to Jurien Bay
Just as we left Highway 1 for the Indian Ocean Drive the subject on the radio turned to tourism on the Coral Coast we have been visiting and the weather news was presented by Patrick who had given us our tour of Geraldton weather station.
Quite handy too as both our maps are out of date and a new extension to the coast road has opened which means we may well take in a town we had considered but dismissed to avoid backtracking. They compared it to the Great Ocean Road we were on exactly a year previously.
Not a bad strip of tarmac and no slow moving Japanese tourists but not the views that Victoria offers yet.
Bright and sunny with a high of 32C so positively chilly! But very windy reminding us of the prevailing wind in Le Cap the scenery being pretty similar too.
Stretching our legs for a stroll to the marina took us along the recently refurbished sea front with plenty of development potential and partially completed projects but something doesn't quite hit the spot for us.
No centre, no soul and screams apprentice town planner and dodgy developers
26th February 2014
Not the best caravan park either but we had a good nights sleep and the showers blew away the cobwebs.
First stop Lake Thetis so Jan could pay homage to her stromatolite friends.
A quick look around the village of Cervantes which looked ok.
Nambung National Park next on the list and Pinnacles Desert and it's thousands of limestone spires up to 5m high.
After a tour round the excellent interpretive centre we headed off into the desert for the 4km drive. Passing through dense bush, just as Wally piped up that this must be a desert with no sand we rounded a bend, came across a sign indicating the max dimensions of vehicles allowed on the drive and we were right on the maximum, the sealed road finished the sand started.
Not expecting a sand road we both looked at each other and concluded there wasn't any mention of a 4WD requirement so we went for it. Threading the 7M bus through the tight track was fun and the views well worth it especially the contrast between the bright yellow sand and blue sky.
Surviving the sand track next stop and another nice village,Lancelin
Destination Ledge Point and the Big 4 caravan park. Very nice one too.
However despite previous comments regarding mobile communications this side of the country it would appear the closer we get to the rat race the worse connections are.
Just over 140KM from Perth no Telstra signal to operate our modem as for 3G signal we haven't picked one up since Geraldton.