Sunday, 12 September 2010

Errm

Excuses, excuses, excuses. I have none. Truth is, since we last spoke we've settled down a bit in Perth got jobs and are living in a house and to be frank it's pretty bloody boring. But that's not to say the journey from the Kimberly's down the West coast wasn't worth talking about, it was and I will waffle for a while I'm sure. Justincase I slack off for a while again, our plans are to leave Perth mid-November and get back on the road again... can't wait. I'm sticking this at the top out of order so when you view the blog the first thing you'll see is this apology for not letting you all know where we are. But now you can shimmy back down a few pages and pick up where we left off sometime.... sliding sideways down a river of mud that was the Gibb River road I think

Photo More waves

Photo ?

Photo aptly named Red Bluff

Photo Waves

Photo Cold

Photo Locals

Photo Blow holes

Surf

So we contented ourselves with snorkeling beautiful corals seeing more types of fish than you could imagine and even catching some and eating them! We also met a funny Dutch couple called Maus and Bridgit here who also had a Landcruiser but had bought it in Melbourne where they were currently living. You can't beat a Dutchman telling a funny story in accented English to cheer you up and Maus loved telling stories. From Ningaloo we off roaded down the coast until we caught up with the main road again and pulled into Carnarvon (no comment on the pronunciation as I couldn't tell you how they say it in Wales). Most of the drive, certainly since Derby has been through desert and there are plenty of signs here and there advising of the next available water place, which made Canarvon a veritable oasis. It's at the mouth of the Gascoyne river and so irrigates acres and acres of land all around growing every type of tropical fruit and veg you can think of. We stocked up here and headed North to find me some surf.

Gnaraloo and Red Bluff are two of the most remote yet well known surfspots on the planet and both of them were firing. Man it was good to be back in the water. Crystal clear turquoise waters and head high waves. It's hard to get your head around sometimes but the Indian Ocean here has so much more life in it than the land that runs into it. Sure every now and then your heart quickens when a shadow passes under you but mostly it's nice fish! We know we're heading South 'cos it's definately getting colder. Morning temperatures are almost into single figures, yeah yeah the afternoons are still 25c and the sea is 18c but it is noticably colder and without a full wetsuit I was getting cold in the water after about an hour. I think it was probably here that we decided, with the knowledge of a house in Perth to go to, that we'd pick the pace up and get on down the road. It wasn't that we were fed up but it just isn't fun sitting around of evening wrapped in blankets (we haven't got any winter clothes left!) and wondering if it was too early to go to bed (we have got a big thick duvet!). On Maus and Bridgits advise we detoured into Shark bay and Australia's most Westerly point and drove up to Cape Peron for a few days and it was well worth it. Good fishing and great dolphin watching.

Photo Maus and Bridgit.. where are Trinny and Suzzana?

Photo lets not beat around the bush...

Photo Another milestone.

Photo Emu

Photo Ningaloo reef

Photo Echidna

Photo Been there a while?

Photo Snapper for dinner

Photo Ningaloo reef

Photo Graffitti on Mt Sheila

Photo View from Mt Sheila

Exmouth

After a brief stop atop Mount Sheila we were back on the coast and Southbound again. Exmouth, no not Exmuth as we would say, Ex-mowth. How did it happen? If these places were named by original settlers that presumably came from the the original surely they would have pronounced it the same as they did when they left, so how come now Exmouth is Exmowth, Derby is Durby and unbelievably Launceston is Laun-ces-ton??? They don't like it when you bring it up though. Exmouth is the gateway to Ningaloo reef, locals like to tell you it's better than the great barrier reef and in someways I have to agree. It's huge popularity (evident by the fact you have to be at the park entrance at 0530 in the morning to guarantee a site on one of the national parks campsites) owes much to the fact that it is very close to shore and you can snorkel straight off the beach. The next big draw is the whale sharks that migrate through here regular as clockwork every year and we were there bang on time. Unfortunately the cost of getting in a small boat and finding a whale to snorkel with would have cost us more than a month in Bali. It's a shame really and I can't honestly see the justification in charging $385 each (roughly GBP250) for 6 hours. It includes a meal but really? 8 people on a boat $3000 for a day's work not bad eh?

Road train

video

Trains

Tom Price, the place and the man are one and the same. A stones throw from the protected Karajini park is one of the worlds biggest open cast mines. The area is hugely rich with iron ore (hence the red colour of everything) and an American geologist called Tom took a few samples back to his boss in American (early 70's I think) and they loved it. So they opened a mine and built a town and called it all Tom Price. The mine is massive. The trains that service the mine are even more massive and handily they also go in a very straight line back to the coast and have a service road running next them, less handily you need a permit to use this road. After signing our lives away and spending an hour watching a safety video we had our permit.

Photo Level 5 is ropes.

Karajini

Onwards South and West, Port Hedland, think we can skip over that (Iron ore and coal) as we can Karatha (iron ore and natural gas) but South of both of these is Karajini national park. As with a lot of parks in WA you can't really see what your gonna get, Australia isn't big on mountains but it is on Gorges which is kinda hard to get your head round, but the thing is the place is so bloody old and has so little tectonic activity that no new mountains have been formed and all the old ones have been worn away and it's this erosion that has created some unique features. At first glance Karajini looks like a range of modest hills (they do like to name them mount this and that though (size issues?)) with the odd escarpment; The truth is a water way has carved deep gouges in to them creating amazingly colourful chasms. You can climb down and around them aswell. There are plenty of warnings and understandably so. Some of the walking routes are not for the feint hearted, feet on one side and hands on the other inching sideways along a metre wide gorge over a river and using a rope to get down into one of the pools before taking of your shoes and wading the next bit felt pretty adventurous if if there are little discs to follow.

Photo Clever Koalas

Photo Nature!

Photo The Spider walk

Photo Karajini treking

Photo Karajini NP

Broome

The caravan park at Derby (pronounced Durby(?)) had a small group of spectators watching the arrivals of the few who had made it out before all the roads we're officially closed. All looked exactly the same and the drivers all had that slightly adrenal induced look in their eyes. Talk then turned to where the nearest car wash was and I tell you someone could make a lot of money in Derby if they opened one! Broome was 2 hrs away and had a car wash and was chalk to Derby's cheese. Derby, small industrial town sat on a small peninsular in a hugely tidal King sound whose outstanding feature was a pier that stretched across the mudflats to facilitate boat loading at low tide. Broome, small historically significant pearl fishing town that successfully transformed itself into a tropical Indian Ocean beach resort when Pearl farming took over from fishing. Rich people have second homes here and escape the Souths winter to watch the sun going down over Cable beach while sipping speciality beers from their very own Matso's micro brewery. Monsoonal blonde was Kyms favourite I preferred the darker porter. Being a resort it is of course easy to spend money and camping isn't cheap but being Australia you're allowed to drive on the beach so on to the beach 2km up the beach into the sand dunes and we had our own piece of paradise. We liked Broome, we liked the vibe the size the people the brewery AND... you could swim in the sea!!!!

Cable Beach rainbow

video

En route to Karajini

Gibb continued

The Gibb River mud show. It rained and it rained and all the good work that the graders had done over weeks was undone in less than a day by the likes of us getting the hell out of there! Moments going sideways into posts along the side of the track made you grateful they were only plastic and bent over when you hit them. All the vehicles we saw, which wasn't that many as rangers had advised no one to drive unless necessary, were the same colour, the colour synonymous with Australia, rusty red. We knew we'd made the right choice in going against the advise of the rangers when two weeks later we got a call from a couple we met at Kalumburu saying they had just got out and that was only with a special permit and a guide vehicle!