Blog 23: Western Australia - Denham to Karratha
Adam is thirty-two today! Or 100000 in binary. 2^5. Such a mathematically elegant age.
Well, staying in Denham for five days taught us some things: We don't do that well with long time staying places. One to three nights is about right for us. Also, we did a rough plan of where to go between the Kimberley and Cairns and there is A LOT. So, we return to our regularly scheduled breakneck adventure hyper-speed programming.
After our nice sunset beach picnic was so nice, we decided to do it again the next day. Groundhog Denham Days.
Tuesday morning it was time to climb out of the rut and hit the road again. We stopped by Eagle Bluff for a panorama across Denham Sound and Henri Freycinet Harbour, before continuing down to Shell Beach for a morning swim. It was shallow. It was cold. It was salty. Refreshing and invigorating. Also lots of cool little shells.
Next we swung around to Hamelin Pool to check out the stromatolites. These bacterial mats of living, growing rock are the oldest ecosystems on earth. Cool. Swinging northward we drove to Carnarvon to pick up some supplies from the post office. We spent an evening amongst irrigated plantations of watermelon and bananas.
Wednesday morning we drove down to the mangrove filled river delta, didn't walk out on the closed jetty and enjoyed a short amble around the first section of a boardwalk that was started but never completed. Funding must have run out somewhere.
From Carnarvon we started to hit our adventure stride again. We took a 50 kilometre detour out towards Gnaraloo to check out the Point Quobba blowholes. We drove through a dry and desolate landscape... to the ocean. It is always a bit strange and disconcerting to see such an arid landscape abutting the watery mass of the ocean. The large blowhole was very cool. The surging and receding of the waves making great watery inhalations and exhalations. Mother nature doing some deep pranayama.
We returned to the highway, turned north and made our way to Coral Bay.
Coral Bay is a bit of a tourist mecca. Hundreds of people and caravans and backpackers and tents and buses crammed into two caravan parks and a variety of adventure-eco-dive-swim-snorkel-boat-sail-enviro-whale-shark-reef-experience operators. Oh and a million pretty dragonflies zooming around.
Morning yoga on the beach for Adam. Still waters and crisp white sand. After breakfast we hopped aboard a glass bottomed boat and cruised out to a snorkel spot to check out some of the gorgeousness of the biodiversity hotspot that is Ningaloo Reef. Underwater shots are courtesy of the GoPro that best best man Aden loaned to us.
What a magic place. Electric blues and silvers and oranges and yellows of fish and coral. You can float still and see schools of fish of every size and colour zoom around. Or follow an iridescent green and blue parrot fish as it meanders around the reef. Or dive down and look between and under coral formations - cabbage, dreadlock and antler - to find other species. Then with a fresh burst of new colour another species you haven't seen yet will swim into view. You could spend hours, days, weeks in the water and still be surprised and astounded by the novel characters that call the reef home.
From our first snorkelling spot at 'The Aquarium' we tracked back into the bay, across lavender fields and cabbage patches to a giant boulder coal - dubbed 'Ayers Rock' by the locals. A four metre cylinder of living coral rock. We jumped back in the water for a second snorkel and swam over, around and alongside the formation. Then we spent some time observing an anemone colony and nemo's distant cousins. And now I realise I have mispronounced anemone as 'an-EN-oh-MEE' all my life.
From Coral Bay we spent a long afternoon driving to Onslow. Cattle filled road trains, winnebagos, mine utes and caravans swept past us. Gas plants started cropping up here and there. A little unsealed road driving alongside the Ashburton River and we made camp (for free!) at the ruins of the old Onslow town site. We enjoyed a studding golden sunset to the west and the radiant illumination of the gas plant and flare to the east.
A morning exploration of the windy Onslow foreshore, a stop to see the very large spinifex termite mounds outside town and it was off towards Karratha to meet up with friends Prue and Rob (and their new baby Will). We stopped on the banks of the Robe River for lunch then rolled into Karratha mid afternoon. The place has grown a lot since Adam came here for work last four or five years ago.
We enjoyed a night in a normal bed, walking around indoors with bare feet and sitting on an actual couch. Little things are luxury.
A Saturday morning mini-adventure took us out to the Burrup Peninsula and to Deep Gorge, which is now a National Park and a wander amongst the petroglyph laden basalt rock heaps. This is a special place. At first you don't see anything. Then you stop and stand still for a while. Then your eyes catch a different brown shade on a rock face and you see an etching. Then slowly, hundreds of icons of animals and people and shapes leap out at you. A little patience rewards you with a special experience amongst rock, spinifex, dry creek bed, cockle shell midden and white gum. Here is a sacred space.
Back to Prue and Robs for lunch and a relaxing afternoon of catching up on things. Did we mention they have a real kitchen?
This morning we had unhealthy-vegan-birthday-breakfast. Ruth has baked a cake and soon we will eat that.
Be safe, well and happy. Eat cake.
All our love,
Adam and Ruth,
Days on the Road = 158
Distance Driven = 21 122 km
Mean Distance per Day = 134 km
Mean Fuel Economy = 13.73 L / 100 km
Best Fuel Economy = 12.17 L / 100 km (Port Lincoln to Port Augusta)
Nights Free Camping = 36
Nights in Roof Tent = 138/157
Coffees Purchased = 48
Instagram Posts = 363
Instagram Followers = 174
Geocaches Logged = 32
Gary Breakdowns = 0.25
Drone Flights = 2
Videos Made = 0
French Land Rover Drivers Scared = 1
State or Territory Borders Crossed = 14
Bucks Parties Accidentally Crashed = 1
Vegan Vanilla Slices Eaten = (Adam 2, Ruth 1)
Times Set Up Camp after Dusk = 2
Chairlifts Not Used = 1
Waves Returned by Tasmanian Land Rover Drivers = 2
Cups of Tea Made for Strangers = 1
Tasmanian Short Walks Completed = 10/60
Rounds of Lost Cities Played = 68
Longest Continuous Sleep in Roof Tent = 11 hours
Gary Oil Changes = 2
Blood Donation Dates = 1
Sick Days = 4 (Adam 4, Ruth 0)
Australian Deserts Visited = (5/10) (Strzelecki, Perdika, Great Sandy, Gibson, Great Victoria)
Cattle Stations Camped On = 1
Iconic South Australian Track Completion = Oodnadatta 100% (617 km), Strzelecki 26% (122/475 km), Birdsville 0% (0/517 km)