The soloavo is back on the horse. I know there was Bussleton but this time is more real. We are in Geraldton for the Easter break and I know to many that would be a less than favourable destination. But we didn’t have a booking until a couple of weeks ago, so it was this or nothing. And this is proving to be a lot of fun.
Thursday after work …
We hit the road after work to get some distance behind us. The traffic was heavy but northbound isn’t as bad as southbound so it didn’t slow us down too much. We stayed in Cervantes for the night in a powered site. Having arrived late we had a lovely walk to the jetty and then eggs on toast before finally hitting the sack, almost last in the park. The rain came down overnight, along with some seed pods from the overhanging tree but we slept well, ready to continue on Friday.
Good Friday …
We rolled on north on a very warm morning, looking forward to arriving at the Drummond Cove Holiday Park. But first a stop for coffee in Dongara, a place we’ll stay another time. After our refuel we moved on and arrived in the early afternoon to a large site, opposite the pool, with a view of the ocean and the incoming inclement weather. Fortunately we had just enough time to get the camper and awning up before the heavens opened and soaked the world but not us. Lovely and dry thankfully, and more so than some fellow campers. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking to the beach for a look and with The Piper swimming in the pool.
Overnight the heavens really opened up and threw down loads of water. Apparently there is someone in the park who is a rain maker (I kid you not). Right about how he’s thinking he’s the bee’s knees. It certainly was enough to put some people off, with a few pack ups happening this morning. For us, no issues and after a lovely leisurely start to the day we headed to Geraldton for a few things. The Piper needed a new tube for the MTB, we needed coffee, I wanted a couple of stands for the camper and we needed to restock the hot cross buns.
I’ve been to Geraldton quite a few times but never to the HMAS Sydney II memorial site. So we followed the signs in the direction of the towering flag and made our way to the top of Geraldton for a look. This is a great site and worth the effort. There is a Wall of Remembrance for the lost sailors, information about the lost and ultimately found ship, a dome of peace inlaid with gulls, a water feature and a beautiful woman waiting and watching for the sailors to return (click the picture below so you can see all of her) . There’s also the flag atop a replica ships stern towering high in the sky (again, click the picture below so you can see it all and The Newby at the base of it). I really recommend you visit this spot if you’re in the area. I was especially moved by the lady and the gulls. The dome of gulls forms a canopy, inspired after a flock of sea gulls swooped over the crowd assembled to dedicate the memorial site which occurred at the setting of the sun, while the notes of the Last Post rang out in the evening air over the Indian Ocean, on the West Coast of Australia where HMAS Sydney sank without a trace, 57 years before. Birds are symbolic as spirits of the dead and historically, the souls of drowned sailors were believed to be embodied in Sea Gulls. Spooky. As for the lady, she stands at the edge of the cliff holding her hat against the sea breeze, her skirt blown back by the prevailing wind. She is anxious, tense; her gaze forever fixed patiently on the horizon. I hope she knows hey found the ship (for that information be sure to read the small plaque opposite the Wall of Remembrance and check the water feature for the location guide).
With that all taken care of we headed for fish and chips (a day late) and enjoyed the new recreation area near the port. The playground is a credit to the local council and we were busy on fussball and football. After that we went for a wander and spotted some dolphins in the port. No seals but we managed to get some sun despite the clouds.
With the rest of the day in front of us we decided to try something new. When we stopped in Dongara yesterday we picked up a tourist brochure that mentioned the geocaches in the area. The small description of this worldwide treasure hunt piqued our curiosity and so we signed up and joined the hunt. Our first hunt was hugely unsuccessful but thankfully we weren’t to perturbed and we went on to find another two that afternoon. The first find was joyous and involved a medium cache with swappables, while our second find was smaller and almost abandoned before one last final look. The Newby found this one and the victory dance was nothing short of shameless. Fortunately the Muggle golfers had left the scene …
On our trip home we cruised into Drummond Cove proper for a look (and a nano cache) before heading for a drink and sunset while The Piper made friends with the other kids in the caravan park. Tell me again why I have to work????
Sunday … Happy Easter
The morning dawned much brighter than the previous day so we decided to drag The Piper away from his newfound friends and head out in the car to explore the Chapman Valley. Our first stop was Coronation Beach, a camping spot just north of Geraldton, apparently a favourite with kite and wind surfers. It’s a future possibility although I suspect its quite popular and fills up quickly.
Next stops were along the way to Northampton to gather caches and have a few laughs. The Piper is highly competitive at this game and happy to knock me flying enroute to the coordinates. Unfortunately Chiverton House Museum was closed so we couldn’t visit. In fact almost all of Northampton was closed and we couldn’t even get coffee. That meant I could request a visit to The Lavender Valley Farm (my cunning plan worked). We had a lovely lunch here and enjoyed each others company, some delicious food and a good view. It also gave us time to reflect on the fun of geocaching to find The Nomad.
After our yummy and late lunch we headed home via the fish farm which was initially for a look and turned into a great afternoon past time for The Pipe and Newby. I was simply the fishing lackey (nothing new there) but the delight on the face of the fisho was worth it. He was heard to reflect on the way home that “time spent with family and friends is priceless”. If you make it to the Chapman Valley be really sure to go to the fish farm and chat to the young man that runs it. He is a lovely person, who allowed us to stay beyond closing (we got there 15 minutes before it was due to shut) and checked on us and his fish to make sure we were still having fun. The Piper and The Newby caught some great Silver Perch and tried their hands at the monster Barra but they were all full up. The ones that got away were huge as always …
Finally a bright and sunny day. Be careful what you wish for, this turned into some real heat in the Kalbarri National Park. We headed to Kalbarri for the day to show The Piper around and revisit a great place. First stop was Binnu (for a cache cause there ain’t much else there at all) then on to Ross Graham lookout in Kalbarri NP. I’ve been to the NP before but not this part so I enjoyed the short walk. From here, with a grumpy Piper, we headed to Natures Window and enjoyed this walk as well. The place wasn’t too crowded so we got the obligatory pics and headed into town for a pie and puffy toot at from the bakery with a view to die for at Chinaman’s Beach.
The next stop was Jacques Beach for a surf to delight us all. This is just the best spot to get wet, get a wave, get happy and get back in the car all sandy and salty. The Piper loved it and would happily have stayed all day, despite initially thinking the waves were too small for his liking. Unfortunately the coffee guys weren’t there but never mind. It was a wonderful hour of fun.
Finally we turned for home but it won’t surprise you that it still took us hours to get there thanks to the many terrific spots to stop along the way. The Piper and Newby were determined to dig up a large part of the NP in search of a small package but I convinced them it was not a great idea. So overall our day was a combo of TFTCs and DNFs all rolled together to make for some great fun in a fabulous part of the world. We missed so much that we wanted to do so we have to go back to hang out at Hutt River Province, explore Port Gregory and the Convict Hiring site as well as head down to Horrocks.
All good things must come to an end or as The Newby says (cue best Scottish impersonation) “the party is over”. But not before we have one last day, albeit spent on the road traveling home. We really do personify the idea that its the journey, not the destination, that’s important. We left the campsite bang on 10am and stashed a cache shortly after at Tarcoola. We could have all popped the camper and stayed there indefinitely, the beach was stunning and almost empty. The Piper was busting to bust out the boogey board but I promised more water later in the day. back in the car the plan was to sped an hour in Greenough but in reality we spent an hour in a couple of spots on the western side of the highway and didn’t make it to the main part of town. Anyone surprised?
First stop was the convict bridge, built in 1864, that is undergoing restoration but is nonetheless impressive especially as it is apparently the oldest timber bridge still in use on a public road and has much of the original timber and stone work in place. How do I know? Well I’m not that old so it must be from a cache of information. Next stop was St Katherine’s Hall for a stop long enough to burn fair skin and fry the patience of the saint herself, before heading for the new bridge where the soloavo finally popped the cache cherry! The victory dance didn’t rival that of The Newby a couple of days previously (Taps Aff v Taps Oan) but the passing traffic were not doubt glad. With very little of Greenough experienced but heaps learned we decided to head for Green Head to eat lunch and have a rest. This turned out to be a fantastic decision.
I’ve never been here although I’ve driven past it. We got to see it at its best, the day after Easter so there was almost no one there. As you can see from the photo below our lunch spot was simply stunning, with a picture perfect view out the window and The Piper had the water to himself. It’s great being self sufficient and with a loaf of bread and a ‘fridge full of food we had a picnic before walking up to the lookouts to check out Dynamite Bay. And what a dynamite bay it is. The pic below is not a pano. Lunch turned into a 3 hour stop and we dragged ourselves away after coffee from the general store. I thought the seals were our last stop but it wasn’t to be with the need to cache burning for The Piper and Newby, we stopped in Jurien and knocked over half the basic ones before finally hitting the long road home. Our trip ended uneventfully although we were shattered from the excitement and sunshine.
If you’re considering a weekend not too far from Perth with heaps to do, don’t discount basing yourself in Geraldton and tripping around. It really is a great part of the world and very underrated.