Coral Bay to Darwin
17.12.2011 - 12.12.2011 38 °C
Soooo arrived in Exmouth, pretty up and coming town actually. Did our usual trip to the tourist info to get the low down then hit the northern tip of Exmouth for lunch and a spot of snorkelling. The 1st beach wasn’t the nicest tbh and so many flies! So moved onto SS Mildura Wreck. Again the beach was a bit stony but there was an awesome ship wreck from 1907 just off the shore PLUS we saw the biggest turtle i’ve ever seen, like 1m diameter!! We headed out towards the wreck. The currents were pretty strong and the water wasn’t the clearest, plus ive def watched too many cartoons! Was imagining a fat shark to come out from the hull of the boat! We made it to the boat and there were heaps of quite big fish and some more turtles. We saw through the wreck, so awesome! All rusted and a real skeleton (no sharks luckily). When we went to swim back the current was pretty strong, took us a good 40mins to get back, which was prob only 100-200m off shore. So a little wacked we made our way to Vlamingh head lighthouse caravan park so a shower and a change before watching a stunning sunset with a cool well deserved beer from the lighthouse.
Next morning off into Cape Range National Park via Jurabi Turtle centre (good info on the turtles in the area), T-Bone beach (had to go coz of the name), the then Turquoise bay – OMG STUNNING! This beautiful white sand, turquoise water bay with a reef full of amazing marine life and coral and turtles only about 20m from shore! Spent most the morning there before heading to Oyster Stacks – which you have to visit at high tide otherwise you hit the coral and kill it! These oyster stacks were impressive, also very sharp, but there was an abundance of marine life around them and the most vibrant coral ive seen to date. We headed down to Yardie Creek, right at the southern end of Cape Range NP to stay the night and lie on the beach under literally what looked like a dome of stars, unreal! Next morning up early for a walk through Yardie Creek, the only area with water in it actually. The fly net really makes such a difference! Essential item! Then hot and sweaty onto Osprey Bay to cool off have lunch, try a bit of fishing (unsuccessful) and have a snorkel..guess what we saw..more fish and more turtles, no but really you never tire from them, and actually this time we saw an octopus and a huge sting ray – quite scary looking actually, bit nervous to get close to that! If that wasn’t enough exercise for the day, it was time for another afternoon hike through Mandu Mandu gorge, very nice! Views through the gorge and out to the sea, and saw some rock wallabies. Few stone throwing and lifting comps then back to the lighthouse campsite for some grub, before heading over to Wobiri beach to watch the sun go down with nibbles and a beer...AND TURTLES LAYING EGGS! It just so happened to be turtle breeding season! Winner! It was pretty epic! The turtles wait till dusk, just bobbing up and down in the sea before coming ashore, taking an age to clamber up the steep banks and start digging a hole for lay the eggs in. My word, what a lot of effort, you see them have a heavy sigh and pause for a bit to get their energy back before digging deeper. The dome of stars was visible again, and the white wash of the waves rolling in looked as though they were in fast forward mode under the star light (like a David Attenborough program where they film for months then fast forward it!) quite cool.
Next day we have a bit of an epic 8hr drive to Tom Price, a mining town, where we stay the night before heading into Karijini NP. 1st stop Mt Bruce, climbing to the summit of the a pretty impressive mountain overlooking a riot into opencast mine. Took us about 4hrs return, and we went the wrong way at one point (gotta carry on climbing, rather than turning off) so ended up scrambling over a load of spineflex (should be called spikeyflex, bloody scratchy!). Next Dales Gorge where we woke up and had an awesome day! Walked from our camp spot (Kangaroo Loop) down to circular pool for a morning dip in a, guess what, circular pool! Aussies aren’t the most inventive with their names, but at least you know what to expect! So a couple of hours jumping off rocks and floating around, surrounded by vertical gorge walls. A stroll through the angular layers of rocks that formed the gorge to the next body of water, fortesque falls, for another swim and lunch. Last but not least another cruisy stroll and we finish at Fern Pool with a little waterfall to climb and sit under, as well as some rocks to jump off and fish that nibble at your feet eating all your dead skin..lovely! actually felt quite nice, until they discovered my recovering blister, oooouuuuuwwwaaaa! Ok thats enough! End of the day and we’re all feeling silly. Time for some ninja (aka noinine) throwing! Lots of splashing around, noise and disturbance. Walking back we saw a sign, ‘this site was created by the Serpent, it is a tranquil place, please enter the water quietly via the steps provided’...ooopps. Fun day though. One more night then off to Broome.
In Broome, this was where Shadi left us (to get all sensible and get himself a job and have a luxury holiday with his girlfiend ;-) haha). We arrived and it was Mango Madness, how awesome does that sound!?! I imagining rio carnival, lots of mangos piles on top of each other balanced on heads, dancing, music, a real celebration! So all excited we get all clamed up and head to the opening night, a mango madness cocktail competition! Woop woop!...terrible ha! Naa wasn’t that bad, we managed to have fun, but really rather boring, so we livened up the evening, ending up with a lot of ppl, including (for some reason unbeknown to me) with a lot of pirates, having a midnight swim. 1st event, pretty average, ok, 2nd event a festival at the mall, mango jams, chutneys, cakes and goods. Rock up to the mall after checking out the weekend market (again not the most amazing have to say) and outside coles (a supermarket, equivalent to like Tescos or something) and there are say 6 of those car boot sales tables making a circle, which you pay $2 to taste all the jams, chutneys and cakes and vote whos is the best. Right, no more mango madness ha! We went over to Gantheaume Point (have to get there for low tide at 4-4.30ish to see the dinosaur footprints, we arrived too late) and then watch the sunset. Very nice! I decided to go for a run at 6am the next morning...too late, its stinking hot by 6.30am and coz i didn’t get to see the dinosaur footprints (yes i know stubborn) i decided to run from Cable beach to Gantheaume Point, prob around a 14km return run. Saw the dinosaur footprints, luckily there were a group of specialists, so followed them around, otherwise would have had no idea! There are a few that look like something, but the rest are a bit far fetched, but apparently, “arrr its so clear they moved around here, see that”??!! 2.5hrs later i arrived back very thirsty, a little rough from both the sun and exertion, and literally, looked as though id just walked out of the sea with all my clothes on! Phew! Went for a stroll around broome, nice city, saw the worlds biggest pearl, about the size of a gobstopper, quite cool. I did a camel ride watching the sun go down, very relaxing (plus you get a free pair of pearl earings girls, boys get nothing haha). Then went for a bbq watching the sun go down before onto the outdoor cinema (over 100 years old, oldest outdoor cinema), where you sit in deck chairs and watched Moneyball. Shadi left us, and it was time to recruit! Put a load of adds up, then went for a spot of mini golf, love it! We checked gumtree too, and had really given up, as we hadn’t heard anything, then the arvo that we were about to leave i got 2 phone calls in the space of like 1/2hr. We met them later for a drink to see if they passed the Shirley (Motorhomes name) test. They did! So the 6 of us, Mike (aka Panda), Seb (aka Sleepy), Noinine (aka Ninja), myself (aka Mum, yup :-p haha), then Roos (dutch 22) and Conor (irish 23). So the 6 of us left the next to head north to Fitzroy Crossing.
Had an entertaining evening of games, introduced the cereal box game (winner every time), and our neighbour (a local) gave us some jarabies (like a greenish prawn) to cook up, so kind! Did a nice little walking in Geikee Gorge the next day, pretty toasty! Plus it was croc breading season so all along the foreshore you can see these croc trails. Seb, Ninja and I climbed to the top of a big rock, great views over the gorge. Then it was onto halls Creek. Didnt think there was much at hall creek so carried on driving and stopped at a 24hr stop. It was perfect! Had a place you could light a fire, coz 37 degrees wasn’t hot enough! No, actually seb really wanted to light fire without matches. So funny, all those who know about “30 days has November” will know the motions i went through to try and light fire without matches...i watched him do exactly the same, unfortunately with the same result – blisted hands, very sweaty, and no fire haha! Out came the matches and a roaring fire, which we cooked dinner on. There was a river near too, perfect for a morning swim. Actually whilst walking there, there were a whole load of, what looked like locus...as you walked millions of grasshoppers moved like a wave out of your way! Quite amazing, but quite gross too!
Onto Wyndham, not much there tbh either, the 5 rivers lookout has really good views and the grotto is cool – walk down 144 steps to this tomb raider looking pool, bright green rectangular pool with vertical walls on 3 sides with trees and their roots hanging down! And lots of monitor lizards! Bit gross to swim in, but a cool place. Then onto Kanunara.
Kanunara i tried to do a scenic flight over the bungle bungles and lake argyle, but they were booked up sooo we did a walk in the mini bungle bungles in the hidden valley. The walks provided were pretty mellow, so we went a bit off road and it was a good fun adventure, well until Roos fell backwards off a rock and dislocated her shoulder, so off to hospital for xrays. She all ok, just gotta take it easy! We did a few of the aboringal art galleries. Really like their stuff, but boy pretty expensive!! $12K for a say 2m by 1.5m canvas! Also went to Zebra Rock gallery. The gallery is pretty average, although they have this zebra rock, which is only found here in the world, which funnily enough looks like a zebras skin patterning. But go feed the fish! You go down to this jetty and overlook a bit rock and river, stunning! Such a nice location we decided to crack open a bottle of plonk and get the chairs out and enjoy the view, whilst feeding a load of turtles and catfish. Beautiful! Oh and nearly lost my newly purchase prescription raybans telling a story (flicked the head back in excitement and threw my glasses into the water, dived down to grab them so fast i cut and bruised my leg! But got the sunnies back so all good!)
Onto Lake Argyle, apparently is so big it can fit like 30 sydney harbours in it!! We arrived via one road in one road out, which had water over it already and just as the sun was setting. Stunning! The drive, there was a creek that looked like there should have been dinosaurs wandering through the valley, and the lake itself was vast. Has an awesome echo too, get about 10 replies! Now, out campsite, this was pretty average, but the pool, woah, the pool...an infinity pool over looking ayres rock! Fricking awesome! The shadow of the mountains, the sheen of the lake and we were floating over it in a lit infinity pool! Highlight! Next morning, we had planned actually for a 4am swim to watch the sun rise, then a 5am hike as it was a 2hr return hike and you need to avoid the sun, but during the night the heavens opened and at 4am it was pouring! At 5am, still raining, 5.15am finished, ok lets go, 5.30am out the door on the walk, 5.40am pouring. Quite nice actually. Walked through that bloody spikeyflex again haha, but no, really was a lovely walk, even in the rain. Walked to the bluff which overlooked the lake, very nice! Then back for a swim before heading to Katherine Gorge.
Katherine Gorge NP has another luxurious campsite, really they must charge too much haha, but thougherly enjoyed it. They have walks around the visitor centre, which were easy and offered ok views, but get on the southern walks! We just went to the 1st walk which was only like a 6km return to the lookout and rockpool, but nice lookout and awesome rockpool. Coz it was in the shade it was cool, such a relief from the heat, and there was the perfect rocks to climb up and jump off (obvi a top priority for a rock pool!). Next stop Litchfield.
We didn’t make it that day as we left a little late, so stopped at another 24hr stop, for another fire, but this time it was so hot i slept outside under my mosi net on a concrete table – felt like i was on a sacrifice table under the moonlight haha. I survived them we headed for out for our last day! Ahhhh the journey north’s all coming to an end! Litchfield we went to Florence falls, very nice, and buley rockpool, better – guess what? More rocks to jump off! Even ventured a summersault! Ha! Then we headed to Darwin to clean the van (WHAT A MISH!! SOOOOOOO HOT TOO!) before handing it in at 4.27pm (shuts at 4.30pm haha). I met up with Odi, sooooooooooo nice to see her! Been an age! And got to stay in her fantastic apartment overlooking the lagoon! I got her out for a celebratory night out before we went our separate ways. Actually turned out Seb, Ninja and panda were all staying another week in Darwin before flying elsewhere so we went to Kakadu after a few fun days with Odi to Berry Springs (very nice, but closed due to crocs), Litchfield (cascade falls, very nice!) and Darwin highlights! Just so nice to have a bud to hang out and reminisce, and also a lounge with space to chill! Small things in life haha! Dont get me wrong Shirley was big (7m long), but still quite cozy with 6 of us in there!
Kakadu, there was a lot of seasonal closures, lots of mossi’s too! but we still managed to fill 3 days with walks, viewpoints, rock art is awesome there! And Ubirr lookout, overlooking Arnham land is spectacular at sunset! Note: take a torch so you can get back haha!
Uggggh, so goodbyes and best wishes all said, it was time for everyone to leave. Odi too was the first person from aus ive had to say goodbye for good :-( not looking forward to the 12th jan! But it was an epic west coast adventure! Lots of fond memories. Had a crack of dawn flight to Alice Springs today where im waiting to embark on an Uluru tour finishing in Adelaide before Syders on the 20th Dec! So funny walking around Alice, you breath and your throat is dry! Also ive been so used to sweating (seriously gross, but becomes normal haha) and here only your armpits sweat. Not because its not hot! Its coz you sweat and before it makes your skin wet, its dried! So hot and dry!!
Over and out until the end of Syders! Wishing you all a happy Christmas and New Year!!