Beautiful Beaches and National Park
Trip Start Jul 08, 2008
24Trip End Sep 11, 2008
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We arrived at the Big 4 Caravan Park at Exmouth at midday and were given another good site (no 86) near the end of the park and bush but fairly close to all the ablution blocks. Obviously the parrots also like this part of the park. We had just got the van in when I heard my name called and it was Margaret and Ian Youngs whom we had last seen just a month ago at Port Hedland. Margaret and I know each other from Curtin exam supervising. At 6pm we took our chairs, drinks and snacks and joined them for a sundowner at their caravan and had a good chat for an hour before dinner. We discovered that Ian is the uncle of Lesley's boss at Gosnells City Council!
The next day, Sunday, we went to the local Anglican church at 9am. Everyone was very friendly and the service evangelical and very similar to what we are used to at Bull Creek. The lay preacher from Sydney is there for three months until their new pastor, who was trained at Trinity Theological College, arrives in November. After the service we enjoyed a cup of tea and cake and chatted to John and Poppy who then invited us to morning tea the next day.
At lunch time I made curried chicken from the caravaners recipe book and then we relaxed until 4pm when we joined the others for our Humpback Whale viewing tour. The boat was fairly big with plenty of room for our smallish group. After being asked to take off our shoes so we wouldn't slip on the deck, we listened to the compulsory safety speech. Mike and I then went to the upper deck and talked to a young couple on holiday from Italy. Once out to sea and after stopping to view the first whale I realized how choppy the ocean was. I couldn’t stand as the boat was rocking so much. Mike could see I already wasn’t feeling too good and suggested I go below. I found a seat in the shade and one of the crew brought me a sea sickness tablet, water and cheese and onion crisps. I was alright for a while and then suddenly I felt terrible. Mike came down and together with the lady crew member they took me to the back of the boat and made me as comfortable as possible. Before long I was feeding the fish the curry lunch we had earlier and for the rest of the cruise I lay curled up on the deck feeling pretty sorry for myself.
At least Mike could take photos of the whales for me to look at the next day! Thankfully Mike kept well and forced himself to eat my share of the delicious prawns on board and more!! We arrived back at our caravan park about 7pm just as everyone was cooking their evening meal but this time I didn’t enjoy the smells! I was in my calm bed in the caravan as quickly as possible and fell asleep immediately, thankfully I don’t think I have ever been that seasick before!
The next morning I still felt a bit weak but after porridge for breakfast, at 10am we were able to visit Poppy and John for morning tea. They have a lovely house in the residential area which they built in the early eighties after they had already lived in Exmouth about fifteen years. John is a rigger and was employed by the US Government to erect the huge masts there which keep in contact with the submarines. Poppy is from Bunbury and her parents migrated from Greece in the 1920s. We spent the day looking at John’s rigging photos and videos of various Exmouth fishing trips. At lunch time they invited us to stay and share lunch with them and we ended up leaving there about 4pm! They are friendly and interesting people. We gave them our address for when next they come to Perth.
What a great place to commence the seventh week of our travels in the north of Western Australia. First thing in the morning we drove to the Cape Range National Park and after paying the day national park fee ($5 for seniors) we proceeded to the Information Centre and waited for them to open at 9am. We had plenty of time to enjoy the landscape and the Osprey in their nest on top of the mast, as they only arrived to open up the Information Centre, Shop and toilets about 9.15am, leaving us in no doubt that we are still in WA (Wait Awhile!). The centre was well worth a good look with exhibits of dugongs, turtles, coral etc that live on the Ningaloo Reef .The shop is well stocked with the usual tourist type items and we spent some time browsing through their displays.
We then headed for Yardie Creek Gorge. The rust red cliffs give way to deep blue waters of the Yardie Creek as it enters into the Indian Ocean providing spectacular scenery. We had fun hiking along the top of the gorge, clambering up and down the rocks and looking down on the canoeists and cruise boat travelling the water below. Along the route we stumbled across a couple of emus, a kangaroo and on a ledge jutting out of the gorge wall below we could just make out a rock wallaby sunning himself – he had to be pretty nimble to get to where he was! The weather was just lovely with a cool breeze which we enjoyed as we sat under the trees to have our picnic lunch before heading off towards Turquoise Bay. Along the way we stopped to check out a Bush Caravan Park at Osprey Bay close to the beach but with no facilities it would be necessary to provide all ones own water, power and toilet. When we reached Turquoise Bay we found the sea to be a magnificent turquoise colour, so definitely no misnomer! Also this bay has the most beautiful beach and many people including small children were enjoying the safe beach with golden sand and shallow water. Its sandy shores give way to incredibly clear waters where I had my first snorkel. It was great drifting along above both small and bigger fish but as there was a bit of a current flowing we didn’t go out as far as the Coral Reef. We knew that we would be snorkeling again at Coral Bay where the reef is even closer to shore at low tide with less of a current. The water was fairly warm and we quickly dried off in the warm breezy sunshine. We still enjoyed a cup of soup which we were able to have as we had brought a flask of hot water and soup packets in case we were really cold after the swim – after all it is still meant to be winter even up here!
On the way back, we stopped at the Lighthouse to enjoy the panoramic view over Exmouth and the whole peninsular. From there we then drove to the end of the peninsular to see the huge masts erected by John when he was working for the American Navy. They were originally built to communicate with the American submarines operating in the Indian Ocean. We also drove past Learmonth Airport which is the airport where the Qantas plane from Singapore recently made an emergency landing while on the way to Perth.
Enough excitement for one day and time to go back and prepare dinner. The next morning, after getting the laundry on the line, we drove out to the Charles Knife Gorges. We didn’t realize how spectacular they would be and wished we had gone earlier when it was cooler to do a decent hike. It wasn’t too hot, though, so we still were still able to walk for about an hour and a half even though it was midday. The drive around the area was just great with views across razor backed ridges and down dramatic steep gorges with the ocean nearly always visible on the horizon. We stopped often along the way and wondered why we hadn’t heard more about it. In the afternoon I went to the Visitors Centre again to buy a postcard of the scenery and was told they didn’t have any and they had no idea why the locals seem to be keeping this fantastic place almost a secret! The turn off to the gorge, which is along a sealed road for quite a long way then good unsealed road, is adjacent to the Kailis fish processing plant. Kailis is impossible to miss as this huge prawn and a sign "Wild Prawn for Sale" adorn the entrance. Inside the shop is a beautiful photo of a sunset captioned “We sell fresh wild prawn and fish every day of the year”. Not quite true as for five days of every full moon the trawlers don’t go out to sea so we had to settle for frozen prawns! They were still delicious cooked with peri-peri on the stove outside our caravan where we enjoyed the cool evening air.
Late afternoon we went to a fishing beach close to the caravan park. The beach was full of the prettiest smooth multicoloured pebbles and I had fun walking along the beach collecting some of them. Mike caught only one fish which was quite happy to go back into the sea – the tide was going out and not really the right time to fish .We also learnt there that the sand flies which had bitten us so badly at Onslow are lunar and also come out around the time of the full moon! Everything up there revolves around the tides and the moon which sure is beautiful when it is full. On our last evening this huge yellowy sphere was rising just in front of our caravan at 10pm.The next morning about 6am the sun rose from about the same spot and soon after watching the lovely sun rise it was time to say goodbye to Exmouth. We also said goodbye to Margaret and Ian before we hit the road again for our next destination. Not having far to go, we only left after 9am when the temperature was already 21C and on this day there were a few clouds in the sky.