Start of trek. SW of WA
Well its the 7th July 2011 and we are off on our big trek around Oz! How exciting and maybe a little sad as we are saying goodbye to family and friends for who knows how long?
On the way through Frankland River we stopped at Alkoomi Wines cellar to pick up a couple of bottles to share with Pat and David Black who were good enough to put us up for the night in Bunbury.
Stayed a couple of days in Perth to see some family and then hit the road north to try to escape the cold and rain. No such luck though, it followed us all the way to Sandy Cape Reserve where we set up camp.
11th July- Drove to Stockyard Gully NE of Green Head which is a limestone cave that is in a creek bed. You can walk 100m right through and out the other side. Then back to Sandy Cape for a freezing dip!
13th July- Packed up and head off through Carnamah to Camel Soak for a look. To early to camp so kept going to Paynes Find with a view to camp somewhere along the Sandstone road. Bugger, too wet so road closed! So up the Hwy to Nandee rd where we found a nice campsite atop of some breakaways. Our first bush camp(love it!).
14th July- Road still a bit wet and slippery in places but fairly easy going. Stopped at Youanmi for a look but not much of the old townsite left to see. The mine has recently reopened and a lot has been fenced off. Then off up to Sandstone. Place will be bursting with flowers soon so much water around. Overnight in Caravan park for $12 a night u/p. Beer at the pub but no meals so back to camp for dinner.
15th July- Everything is damp from a heavy dew so we went to check out the tourist loop to let everything dry out before packing up. Took in the sights of the Old Brewery, London Bridge and an Old State Battery.
Road to Cue still closed so on to MT Magnet then up to Cue via the Hwy. Quick lunch and then out to Walga Rock, the road is open but still a bit wet in places. Found a nicely protected camp spot as the weather was threatening again.Lots of birds in the Minerichie trees and quite a mob of goats wandering around on top of the rock.
16th July- Raining this morning so bit hard boiling the billy on the fire. It got there eventually! Managed to go and look at the paintings on the rock in between showers. Went for a walk up to the top of the rock and were very surprised to have mobile reception. Made a couple of calls and then what? Facebook of course! HaHa. Caught lots of rainwater for a nice hot shower later on. When it fined up in the afternoon we took the bikes for a lap around the rock(aprox 5km) and I later found out I needed heavy duty tubes if I was going off the track(2 flat tyres.Double Gees)! Camp oven casserole for tea yum.
17th July- Nice morning with a lazy breakfast. Decided after lunch to pack up and move on as there was rain forecast and we didn't want to get stuck there. Left about 2.30pm and ran into the rain about halfway to Yalgo. The road turned to slop about 10km out of town making things very interesting for the driver(scary for the passenger) with the camper and 4wd sideways in opposite directions! If we had slid off the road that's where we would have stayed! Made it to Yalgo just as it was getting dark covered in mud, still raining and bloody cold. Cant open the kitchen up without putting up the awning, so wine, beer and nibbles for tea tonight. Rained all night.
18th July- Off again after having a chat to a couple who had just done the Canning Stock Route with their Patrol and T Van. Refuelled and restocked at Mullewa before continuing onto Coalseam Conservation Park. Camped there for 2 nights and took in the sights. Wildflowers are starting to come out.
20th July- Very cold last night, lovely morning but heavy dew again. Once everything dried out we packed up and headed for Ellendale Pool E of Walkaway. Short drive today, only about 1 hour. Got a great campsite close to the river so Michael took the kayak out for a spin.
21st July- Rained for half the night very steady. Nice morning though so went for a drive into Grenough for coffee and a look. Michael wanted to see the woodwork place and on the way it absolutely bucketed down! Wipers on full and going slow but still couldn't see! Poor display at the woodworks but quality stuff. Then lunch at Bentwood Olives. This place was a real find, with a delightful lunch of pumpkin and feta tart for Sherron and Michael had a Tuscan Handbag(filo pastry stuffed with vegies and mozzarella),YUM. Dessert menu looked good.......another time? Back to camp.
23nd July- Leisurely pack up on a lovely morning then headed into Geraldton to Stan and Sandy Singletons place stopping to buy some new bike tubes. "Van park? No... stay with us" so we set up the camper in their back yard for a few days. Spent the next couple of days sightseeing including the HMAS Sydney Memorial and the museum which were both quite interesting.
25th July- As we have to stay in Geraldton for 3 weeks due to Sherron having her last 2 treatments here, Michael went Job hunting today to fill in the time and top up the bank balance. The first place he tried, Herks Panelbeating said "Sure, can you start now?"!! Um.....how about tomorrow? That was too easy. In hindsight, maybe should have shopped around a bit to see what other places would offer. Oh well, its only 3 weeks.
Sherron had her 2nd last treatment this afternoon. We also shifted house to the Batavia Coast caravan park and then went back to Sandy and Stans for dinner.
Not much to report for the next few weeks. Sightseeing on weekends(not a lot for a tourist in this town), met 2 nice couples in the park who are also on working holidays, Willie and Nina(kiwis) and Bianca and Terry(QLD). Had a cracker of a storm that brought down trees and flipped a 2 light planes, 100kmh winds and plenty of rain. Bought another kayak and upgraded the gas struts on the rack.
16th Aug- Sherron has had her LAST TREATMENT YAY!!!! We are ready to go!
17th Aug- Had a nice sleep in listening to everyone else go to work then packed up, said goodbye to Willie and Nina and hit the road again on our way back to Ellendale Pool to await a rendezvous' with Sherrons parents, Dave and Peta Hill(oh and Saffi dog). They arrived at about 4pm and Sherron was very happy to see them. Saw an Echidna near camp which tried to bury itself so it wouldn't be seen. Cold night, I think the Flannel sheets are going back on the bed!
18th Aug- Off again, this time in a convoy of 2 cars! Dave and Peta in their Navara following along behind us up Sandsprings rd and a river crossing over the Grenough river. Water up to the side steps. Stopped to check out Tenindewa well and old school site, which would make quite a good camping spot. Lunch in Mullewa then off up the Murchison rd with so many wild-flowers out, paper daisy's, billy buttons, purple vetches etc. Pulled into well 9 just north of Billabalong stn for our overnight camp. We've camped here a few times before and its a great overnight stop allowing you to get right off the road and have a nice private camp.
19th Aug- Off up to Murchison today to set up camp for the Astrofest. A brand new rammed earth roadhouse has been built by the shire and the caravan park is lovely with grassed powered sites and a new bbq gazebo. Once we were all set up we decided to go for a drive out to Errabiddy bluff, which was a bit of a challenge as there were a few deep and long puddles on the track but all good fun. Quite a warm climb up to just below the bluff but well worth it for the view. Met the rest of the committee that night at a BBQ for everyone.
20th Aug- Lots of people turning up today for the Murchison Astrofest including a bloke from Holland playing the didgeridoo! Michael, Sherron, Dave and Peta along with a couple of other volunteers met with Terry the chef and had a run down on what we were getting ourselves into. 1 hour into kitchen duties Sherron stuck a tomato knife into her thumb and that put her out of action for the weekend! Everyone else was flat out in the kitchen all day making lunch and dinner for over 200 people and were totally buggered by the end of it. It was pretty cool having a look through the telescopes though, and having it explained what we were looking at too!
21st Aug- Morning came and off to the kitchen we trooped again for breakfast duties. We had over 200 people to feed again, not that we felt like getting up early this morning. Michael's comment was that he'd never worked in a commercial kitchen before and there's no way he'd do it again! That was hard work! Moved on up to Beringarra stn after lunch calling into the homestead to have a chat to Nat and Simon on our way to Weerie pool. Floods have ruined the track out there and it took us a bit to find it even though we'd been there before. Great spot to camp. We stayed there for 2 nights although I reckon we could've stayed there a week if Dave and Peta had the time. We took the kayaks for a paddle around to check out the bird life. Wow so many different kinds and most seemed to be nesting. Even Dave went for a paddle before we went for a drive over to Kalamunda pool where we all had a swim.
23rd Aug- After a great couple of days camping we drove back to the homestead to say thanks before heading off. On the way to Mt Gould we stopped off at the remains of Beringarra's old shearing shed which has been reused elsewhere as a machinery shed.
Onwards towards Mt Augustus checking out the Landor Racecourse on the way although we were a tad early for the Landor Races. Continued on past Mt Augustus to Pingandy stn where the country really changes to something resembling a quarry! It just seems to be all rocks. Found the old track through to Riley gap, took 1 hour to do 5km in very rough country with some track clearing and a lot of getting out and searching for the track on foot! Eventually we came to a branch of the Pingandy creek and set up camp as it was getting late with the sun going down. Camper performed very well in these conditions, we were impressed. Another great bush camp.
24th Aug- Michael and Dave went for a reccy this morning to find a way through. Sorry, no go. Track hasn't been used for about 15 years and would have taken us days to get through so we had to back track out to the main road. On we drove to Pingandy creek, then up to Fords creek where we had some lunch and a dip in a pool. Then it was back to Mt Augustus to the "Tourist Resort" for the night. Talked to some other campers about the road through Pingandy to Paraburdoo, they should be right if they take it easy.
25th Aug- Pretty uneventful run through Cobra stn, Dairy creek stn etc and down to Bilyung pool. Set up camp in the creek bed and had a swim. Saffi dog was in heaven, swimming and sand to dig!
26th Aug- Driving out of the creek in the morning was interesting with the camper, quite a steep exit and a bit of scrabbling but we got out. Big splash crossing the Woramel river so had to take pics. We came across a couple of big detours further down the road because of flooding earlier in the year, very flat country and still a lot of water around but its great for the wild-flowers. We arrived back in Murchison at about lunch time and set up camp again to relax for a couple of days and do some washing and maintenance.
27th Aug- Dave and Peta left in the morning, Sherron was sad to see them go as we'd had a good couple of weeks travelling with them. Chatted with Dawn from Denmark(the country) about her trip she's doing around Oz on a BMW trailbike, that was until the rear suspension carked it 50km north of Murchison. Michael did a small panelbeating job for Spider from the roadhouse and was rewarded later in the afternoon with an esky of beers on ice! Nice. He also refunded our camping fees. Nice couple, Tani and Spider and we've since heard they're now travelling Oz in a bus.
28th Aug- Time to move on again, this time following the Murchison river through New Forest stn, Yallalong stn and Coolcalalaya stn which has been turned into an offroad adventure park with camping, 4wd tracks and some awesome looking mud holes to play in. We kept on going though as it looked a little hard core for our set up! Managed to find the old Geraldine mine site after taking a few wrong tracks and getting bogged in the river sand. Got the camp set up fire going, drink in hand, what a hard life! We spent the next couple of days kayaking on the river and swimming in the cold water.
30th Aug- More paddling on the river before we packed up and moved into Kalbarri about lunchtime, very busy after our last couple of weeks out in the bush, grey nomads everywhere! Booked into caravan park for 3 nights.
31st Aug- Went for a walk along the river this morning and then after lunch at the tavern we visited the Rainbow Jungle bird aviary where they have all sorts of Parrots from all over the world.
1st Sept- Up early this morning and out to the NP at natures window to do the 8km loop walk which was quite interesting with sand, rocks and climbing/scrambling in places and lots of pools which were too chilly to swim in. Stuffed by the end of it! That night we dined at Finlays Fish BBQ which was a bit of a let down. Last time we were here it was really good.
2nd Sept- Not much happening today, the weathers turned to crap, blowing its arse off. Dinner at "The Restaurant Upstairs" was great, best dining out we've done in ages.
3rd Sept- On the road again, down to Lucky Bay, drove in and parked at the shacks where you camp and walked to the beach. Very rough today, not a very nice beach(couldn't see any bay) and didn't fancy staying there at all. Turned around and took one of those famous shortcuts back to the main road, you know, when you start to think "where the hell are we going?" Took 3 times as long to get there! Continued onto Port Gregory Caravan Park which is old but quite tidy. Drove up the beach for a look and decided to do a spot of fishing but without any luck.
4th Sept- Moving right along on our way to Horrocks we came across a lookout that showed a lovely bay which looked so inviting. Hmmm how do we get there? Called into the cafe at Horrocks and had a coffee and cake and asked them. No worries, just up the road and through some sand dunes but nothing too hard. Its got new loos, fires allowed, rubbish collection and even firewood supplied all for $15 a night. Also mobile phone access. Not on any maps we've seen and not listed in any guides either. One of those secret little spots that only the locals know. Great spot to stay a while fishing, swimming and kayaking.
5th Sept- Nice morning so tried fishing from the kayak but no luck. Went for a walk out on the reef at low tide and tried casting into deep holes but the fish still eluded me. Then the wind got up so we went for a drive up the beach which had a lot of rubbish on it, mostly craypot floats and bait baskets. Got windier in the afternoon and according to the weather man it will stay windy for the next week or so. Bugger, and it was so nice here too. No fire tonight, too windy.
6th Sept- Still very windy this morning so packed up and moved to Northampton. Had a wander around the main street looking at the shops and pubs and ended up having roast dinner at the tavern for $12.50 ea with a nice cosy fire going. Whats more it was just a short walk across the road from the caravan park.
7th Sept- Packed up and did some food shopping, filled up with fuel and water. Checked out some restored machinery and the old railway station before heading up to the Geraldine mine site to wait for Michael's mum and dad, Olive and Ken White to catch us up as they want to do a bit of camping with us. Set up in the same spot as before.
8th Sept- 11th Sept- Spent a fair bit of time in the shelter of the awning keeping out of the wind and flies. Michael has worked out the finer points of playing the card game "Frustration" and is starting to beat Sherron with a "how'd I do that?" look on his face!
We took the kayaks for a good paddle half way to the bridge and back with the water getting so shallow in places we had to drag them to the next pool. Sherrons muscles were really aching after that!
Michael has been riding his bike a fair bit exploring and rode all the way to the bridge and back one day. Good trails for a mountain bike. Some other campers came in on the weekend but didn't really see them and apart from that we had the place to ourselves.
12th Sept- Leisurely pack up this morning then drove up to Waribanno chimney, mostly to see if we could get mobile service. Got a signal up the top and called Ken and Olive who were just out of Lancelin, Ken thought they'd get to Northampton but we thought that'd be a bit of an ask for them. Continued on to Galena bridge and set up camp on the north side of the river under some nice shady trees which were just perfect to hang the hammock from, then took the kayaks for a paddle down under the bridge to the weir. Had a swim and back to camp, rest area opposite is filling up rapidly. Much better spot where we are!
13th Sept- Foggy this morning, could hardly see the oversize loads on the bridge. It soon cleared though and we just sat around watching people leave waiting for Ken and Olive to arrive. It was good to see them when they turned up, lots of chatting and catching up and then more paddling and swimming. We went for a walk to check out the main rest area which had filled up again and counted 37 vans, winibagos and campervans. And its like that every day during the tourist season, no wonder the loos were full!
Had a lovely campfire and BBQ for tea.
Now that we've crossed the Murchison river, I consider us to be "Up North". Check out our NW of WA page