Kalbarri

January 2015

I’m in Kalbarri! I can’t believe it. I’m so stoked to be here. I always talk about doing these things, they seem like a good idea at the time, so I book and plan, and then I get nervous, have second thoughts and people buy me eperbs (a Christmas present from a caring but slight over protective person). All of a sudden I feel I should bail. But I keep a straight face, trust in myself and low and behold, I can do it! I’m sitting in the Black Rock cafe. Just ordered a steak and champagne cocktail. I have a great view of the orange sky, post sunset, against the deep blue ocean with the palm frond blowing in the breeze.

The camper is up. Not a hassle. I even got the kitchen up (it’s normally a two person job). I’ve got a great site. I sort of stuffed it up in terms of situating on the site, but it won’t be a major disaster. The van park is 50m from the visitors centre so I’ll be headed there in the morning for information. I’m across the road from the river so tonight’s job is to work out how to get the kayak over there without having to use the car! I can drag it on grass to the road and drag it another 10m to the water. Crossing the road???? Not sure! Would be a real shame to have to manhandle it onto the roof, tie it down and then get it off again, all to go 50m. I should have bought a skate board. I could have strapped it to the board and pushed it. Anyway, I’ll sleep on it and see what I can think about.

There is about 5k of kayaking down the river apparently, so I’ll give that a go in the morning. Perhaps not tomorrow but one of the three. Before the wind whips up. Liv (my Giant road bike) has her wheel back on so she’s going to get a flogging too. I popped a Mars bar on the back seat when I packed the car up. I had some lollies that I scoffed by the time I hit the hwy and looked for my mars bar. I realised where it was and planned to reach around for it only to be obstructed by Livs front wheel. That Mars bar taunted me all the way to Geraldton! It was an ok drive. Longer than I thought from Jurien to the Brand. I ran out of gas at 340 odd kilometres. But that’s not bad considering I am towing and the wind really buffets the high truck around.

I refuelled the car and me in Geraldton and had a super chicken BLT, an iced coffee and a couple of bottles of sparkly water and then had to stop for a road side wee, 10k outside of Kalbarri. I had hoped to make it into town but arriving in wet jeans would not have been pretty. Mind you, me squatting between the truck and trailer probably isn’t either. But there was no one around. In fact, I didn’t pass or see one car on the entire road in from the Brand. It was a bit eerie. I guess there could have been someone just behind or just in front but no one came towards me from Kalbarri. Deserted.

So, lucky I had my music. I can do about 6k per song, so do the math on that and you’ll get some idea. But here’s a selection. I seemed to be on a love song theme. I’ll call it the Kalbarri Road Trip Mixed Tape … You might like to put it together as a playlist (I’m still stuck the 80s with a mixed tape), have a listen, and let me know what you think. In no particular order …

The Love Shack – B52s
Because we can – Bon Jovi
I got burn – Lance Ferguson
You and me – Alice Cooper (untypical Alice and very romantic)
Come together – Aerosmith (yes it’s the Beatles song)
If today was your last day – Nickelback
I don’t want to miss a thing – Aerosmith
Under your skin – Dan Sultan
On a mission – Gabriella Cilmi
You shook me all night long – Acca Dacca
Celebrate good times – Funktown America
Come with me now – Kongos
Leave me alone (I’m lonely) – P!nk
Love walks in – Van Halen
Sand in my shoes – Dido
Still into you – Paramore
Who’s that girl? – that Sebastian guy
You pick me up – Pete Murray
You sexy thing – Hot Chocolate
Come away with me – Nora Jones
I touch myself – Divinyls
Just the way you are – Bruno Mars
Islands in the stream – Kenny and Dolly (do you think they slept together?)
Strokin’ – James Blundell
World turning – Yothu Yindi
Someone like you – Adele
Ridin’ solo – Jason Derulo
Happy – Pharrell Williams
Best day of my life – American Authors
I need you tonight – INXS
If I die young – The Band Perry (at least I swam in the Indian Ocean this morning!)
Loud like love – Placebo
She makes my day – Robert Palmer
This fire – Birds of Tokyo
The way you make me feel – MJ

Ok, what else? I saw an almost catastrophic accident. As in, it almost happened. A car behind me overtook me and the car in front of me (that was also towing). I couldn’t see past the car in front so I slowed enough to let the overtaking one in if needed. But he flew past me and kept going. By this time I could see because I had dropped back. The overtaking car was headed straight at a southbound vehicle. I have no idea how it didn’t end badly! He managed to squeeze in front of the car in front of me. Idiot. It could have been a 4 car, 2 trailer nightmare! But, as instructed by those who care, I was driving safely 🙂

So, I’ve just polished off a passionfruit creme brûlée with vanilla bean ice cream and berries. Naughty girl. I’ve been invited to the pub for karaoke but I’m tired so I’m headed home.

In my pjs now. All’s quiet and I’m comfy in bed. Good night.

I’m on the deck! The Upstairs Restaurant (perhaps it’s Restaurant Upstairs).

The pub had a bajillion families with 3/4 of a bajillion kids so I scooted past there and saw this and was delighted to see a sign saying no high chairs, no kids menu and, prams and strollers not permitted. My kind of place tonight. I’m out on the verandah (it’s actually not a deck) and just ordered dinner. My comso cocktail has just arrived and I’m having fried Camembert followed by the whiting with chips and salad. The chef asked me what I’m selling, said I look like a salesperson. Really going to have to work on my professional-on-holidays look.

I had a really restful sleep last night. As I said, I sorta stuffed up situating on the site and thought I might hear a lot of traffic and people noise but I didn’t hear a thing! And I think I only woke up because I was melting! I was surprised to see it was 8am and of course I was busting to wee (yet again). I was going to take it easy and cruise to the info centre but I realised I may not got back here so I tried manhandling the kayak onto the car. In doing so, I realised I would be able to carry it the 10m across the road. Wahoo! Rashie, paddle, pfd, water and sunscreen and I was across that road like a shot. I paddled towards the river mouth, across to the other side and had a look at the open beach and back to the Kalbarri side for a swim. I saw a seal (actually apparently they are a seal lion – who knew?) sticking his head out of the water. They look like dogs but when he submerged and resurfaced further along I tried to catch him but he was too fast!

After my paddle I had a great shower and headed out in the truck (my tow vehicle is an 80 series Landcruiser with 3?? ???ks on the clock). Too hot! Too hot! The chicky in the info centre told me about the bike path (Sunday morning, so I can tell the girls in my riding group that I still rode), kayaking options (might go out again tomorrow evening), coastal gorges (more about those in a minute), and river gorges (tomorrow). Armed with info I grabbed a sandwich, iced coffee and caramel slice and headed south. I cruised into each signposted spot and had the places to myself. I walked to each lookout in my skirt and purple thongs and contemplated the majesty of Mother Nature. When I was in the UK and France and Italy I craved a natural attraction. You can have your castles and colosseums and even the tower. I just love how spectacular rocks, cliffs, the ocean, gorges and reefs can be. Especially when you get them to yourself. I sat and adored Island Rock and gasped when I spotted the Natural BridgeEagle Gorge beach is made for lovers and I’m going back to Red Bluff Beach for a surf tomorrow. I finished my afternoon with a snorkel at Chinaman Beach and a couple of G&Ts at home.

I’m off to the inland gorges in the morning. The alarm is set for 05.00hrs and the water is in the fridge. I’m not hiking, just going to the various lookouts and observation areas. I’m looking forward to it. It’s the reason I drove all the way here. I’ve always wanted to experience more gorges. I’ve seen the ones in Central Australia and some on the east coast so I was disappointed to hear there were gorges here and we missed them when we went to Coral Bay. I am so annoyed that my camera is currently out of action. I’m using the iPhone but it’s not the same. But then the camera doesn’t really capture the beauty of these places the way the eye does either. Maybe it’s time I stopped relying on the camera to be my memory and started remembering things for myself. I think it’s finally safe to commit things to memory. That’s an exciting thought. Wow!

Alright, I’m done with picking bones out of fish. The Camembert was super, the fish was good but the bones scare me (it’s a long way to a hospital from here), I didn’t eat the chips (one can only eat so many chips in one week), the cocktail was excellent and now I’m savouring a glass of SSB. Except for the karaoke (who let the dogs out?), far too loud from the pub, the evening has been almost perfect. I’m not having dessert tonight (caramel slice earlier) so it will be home for me soon. I’ve managed to set the waiter straight; dropped into the conversation that I’m a Doctor (fish bones). Amazing how differently a Dr gets served compared to a sales rep! He doesn’t need to know that I have a doctorate not a medical degree, that’s just a technicality.
I’m really happy and very comfortable in my own company. I’m glad I can be alone and be ok with it.

Hey from Kalbarri on my last evening.

It’s been a great day filled with excitement and action followed by relaxation and rest. I’m very sad to be leaving here tomorrow but I’ve done everything I wanted to do and I have plans for the morning before I leave.

Obviously the big ticket item was the gorges. I set the alarm for 05.00 but didn’t sleep that well so when it went off the last thing I want to do was get up. I dozed until 5.40 then berated myself for wasting time and hauled my sorry butt out of bed. In truth I think I also started to believe the propaganda fed to me about how dangerous the gorges can be, the need for an eperb, “don’t forget the compression bandage for snake bite that I gave you”, and all the other hype. So I was using tiredness as an excuse. I shouldn’t doubt myself but the whole way there I was saying that there was no good reason the car would break down now rather than any other time and that there was no mad axe wielding murderer waiting for me.

Sure enough, the car didn’t break down and no axe wielding murderer was waiting in the car park. In fact there was no one in the car park. The buzzing of a fly and the ticking of the cooling car engine were all that broke the silence. I wandered down to a Natures Window, far more suitably dressed than yesterday in jeans and hiking boots, and was awe struck to see the rock formation that is so famous. Amazing. And so peaceful. I looked at it, walked back and stared at it and then sat in it! Alone. For at least 10 minutes. There were half a dozen pelicans in a pool of water way way below to the west and a ‘roo having a drink directly below. Someone had fried an egg on the rocks yesterday but otherwise there was very little evidence of human activity. I am so glad I made it there and I thanked god for the opportunities I have in life and committed to be more grateful for everything. Just as I had had enough a young couple arrived and I left them for a few minutes alone with the rock hearing the hoards arriving in buses and cars. I timed that to absolute perfection.

I drove up and had a look from the lookout back down onto where I had been and left my mark on the world. I can use a long drop toilet but really there is no need when you are alone and all trace evaporates seconds after you leave. Boys do it all the time! Next stop, Z Bend. I loved the fossilised prints in the rocks. Imagine a bug that big! And I was awestruck again by the way the incredibly straight cracks in the rock turn into those massive gorges. Would they call them canyons in the US or are canyons bigger? I’m not sure but that place is big. Maybe I’ll see the Grand Canyon someday and can compare.

There are some strange folk around and I saw many today out in the gorges. Picture this. There was a very tall man who caught my eye for all the wrong reasons. He had a hat on with the fly net over it, enclosing his whole face. Seriously, there were very few flies and they were hardly annoying. He had a nondescript shirt on but he had on very short shorts (not boardies or cargos), white in colour but with very bright, colourful flowers printed on them! To top it off he was carrying a grey plastic bag (!) with his walking supplies. Imagine how long he would last without a tour guide. And I was worried about me …

I also bumped into my neighbours. A nice couple I have acknowledged as I pass their van but haven’t spoken to. They chatted to me and one was keen to descend to the river while the other was reluctant, in fact admitted to not wanting to. They asked me if I was going and I said no, mainly because I failed rule no 1, according to the sign – take a companion with you. One of them saw this as an opportunity for safety in numbers (if she must go), and proceeded to invite me to go with them. I politely declined saying I hadn’t intended to and therefore hadn’t prepared for it. They didn’t descend in the end. A good thing, given their wariness.

After the Z Bend gorge I headed home very happy with my achievements and keen for an apple and a yoghurt. Seems I’m a local in town now, with the waiter from last night stopping for a chat (“Hey Doc, how you going? Where you been this early? The gorge? Wow!”) and my karaoke mate from the night before saying hi and chatting about the weather. Imagine living here. You couldn’t go to the bathroom in your own house without the whole town knowing about it (possibly before you knew you needed to go!). I just remembered, I also went to the Menara (sp) lookout on my way back into town. Well worth it. Gives a fabulous view of everything and the town was really crisp looking and the water was gloriously coloured. Back home I gorged (pun intended) on my apple and yoghurt and busted into some rice crackers too. I don’t think I walked that far but my Special K and coffee had certainly worn off. Perhaps the elation of my achievements added to my appetite???

The rest of my day has been lazy. I went for a surf and loved it. There was a wee mobile coffee and cake place there so I had the best coffee of my life with my feet in the Indian Ocean. Bean Drifting. Great name for a coffee shack by the ocean. And what a great view they have from their “office”. After my swim I sat in the car for an hour with the radio on and watched the grommies and other bigger folk catching waves and coming and going. I’m going there again tomorrow on my way out of town (more about that in a minute).

Since I’ve been back here I’ve had a late lunch, a shower, walked to the shops for a look at the boutiques and camping stuff and came back with ciders! I’ll boutique shop in the morning seeing as I missed them today. I was after a 12v shower in the camping place but he didn’t have any. Fortunately, in looking for them I saw solar shower bags and remembered that I have 3! No need for a 12v shower. I want to have a swim tomorrow on my way out of town and don’t want to come back for a shower. This way I can rinse off the salt and sand, at the back of the car and be comfortable for the trip back to Perth. No sand up the wazoo!

So, I’ve spent the rest of the afternoon reading Cosmo and finding out how to break the rules and get the sex life I want (the answers are in 50 Shades), learning that my future husband is already in my phone, and looking at 30 women’s boobs to show what normal looks like (my word there are some interesting sets of girls out there). The wind has been considerably less than yesterday, barely a breeze. It’s stuffy and I need another shower or a swim. The sky is quite cloudy, little puffs that look like cotton balls all spread out from west to east and north to south. I think the sunset will be super so I’m going to walk to the lookout to watch it. I’ll come home via the pizza and pasta place with a takeaway creamy chicken something or other, and wash it down with another cider. (Post script – turns out they were sold out of pizza and pasta by 7pm – they opened at 6. So I’m having a superb chicken korma instead. Now I’m not sorry the pasta wasn’t an option).

It’ll be an early night. I’m weary but in a good way and ready for a better nights sleep. It was incredibly still here at 06.00 this morning, so I am going to set the alarm again and ride Liv to the outskirts of town as the sun rises. That will wake me up and get me cracking to be packed up and off the site by 10am. I don’t want to leave but I’m also ready to go home. It’s been a super two days so far and I’ll leave here after lunch tomorrow so it will be another almost full day. If I hit the road by 2 I’ll be home by 8. No point getting home early just to say I did. I’ve not got nothing to do there and there’s heaps to do here!

I’m finishing my chicken now at 8.30. I left here at 6.30 and walked to the lookout to watch the sunset. One of the most amazing sky shows I have ever seen. The little cotton ball clouds and the long streaky ones all lit up in a 360° show of spectacle colour. The walk was divine and the walk back equally so. Kalbarri is a great place and I’m very glad I’ve been here.

Sunday in Kalbarri. Where else would you be?

This bit is a mirror of yesterday. Alarm set for 5. Ignored it for 40 minutes then up and at them! Suns not up yet but it’s making it’s presence felt. The galahs are as noisy as all get out, yelling at each other, swooping and generally acting like … Well like galahs! I totally get why people get called galahs after watching these larrikins! So much fun in the sky looping, rolling, spinning and then laughing and shrieking at their own cappers. Funny and very likeable birdies.

Fortunately Liv was ready to go after I prepped her last evening. Tyres pumped, water locked and loaded (this is important later), clothes and gear ready to go. No breaky needed but managed to throw down a coffee and head off. The plan was to hit the cycle path but the road was deserted so I clung to the bitumen edge and rode into the blossoming day. I really should do this more often. The pre dawn feeling of quiet and crispness is restoring and invigorating. With a deserted road I was able to make it very quickly up hill and down dale to Red Bluff. Alone on a high headland on a calm and still morning I sat quietly on the wall and watched my favourite scene, the ocean. There is no television show, movie, YouTube clip or video that can beat the pure and simple ocean. And then, my reward, dolphins. Right in the middle of the bay. All is right with the world.

My ride back was almost marred by a fall from Liv (not unlike a fall from grace). I need to ditch the over confidence and find the over thinking. Especially cycling along a narrow cliff top! Fortunately god or karma or whoever looks after cyclists saw the error of my ways and saved me. Not wanting to push my luck I held the brake on the long hill ride back down to sea level, despite a hankering to just ride without care. I rolled into red bluff beach to see the dolphins but they weren’t visible across the ocean as they were from above, so I rode on headed for Bean Drifting and coffee at Jakes Point Beach. Unfortunately I beat the drifters and was forced to roll back into town without beans in my belly. I was back at base camp by 7.15 and on the water by 07.30 in the kayak.

From my camp I could see the river and small patches of churning water. I was determined to investigate and found these to be seething masses of mullet. Clearly in frenzy, they moved around the kayak but were not driven to dart away. When they did move their top fins sliced the water like mini sharks in a school. Very intriguing to watch. So my paddle was hardly difficult, but it’s Sunday! And it’s only half past seven and Kalbarri is only just waking up. What’s the rush? Oh that’s right, I have to get packed.

Back home again I enjoyed my cereal and coffee after a chat with my neighbours. Then I filled my shower bags with water, packed up the inside of the camper and gave it a clean, loaded the car and started the fold down. This bit can be tricky but it all went without a hitch and with the kayak tied down I’m done at the Murchison caravan park. For this trip. I will be back. With the kids. For now though, I’m off to Jakes for a swim and cool down before I head home. And coffee!

The place is packed. Didn’t they know I was on my way? It’s no wonder though. It’s a superb spot and we all get to enjoy it, share it and play together, just the way I think god meant us to be. No one owns this spot and we all get to feel the good feelings it can provide. The grommies are busy in close and the big guys are carving it up out on the break. I had a splash that cooled me off and then grabbed my coffee while my shower warmed up. Car door open, feet on the window, coffee and my favourite view I just felt so refreshed. A perfect mini break where every opportunity was taken. And to top it off, a hot shower to get the sand and salt off, with nothing between my “bathroom” and the ocean.

Clean, with my hair naturally blow dried, I finally rolled out of Kalbarri. I was told I would love it, and I did! It is fresh, clean, bright and welcoming. It was therapeutic and fun, even for a solo traveller. The doctor would highly recommend it to fellow travellers of all varieties. Little did I know though that there is a wee slice of heaven in (Port) Gregory, just down the road. Past the salt lake turn right and just cruise 5k into a tiny hamlet, population 46. The water colour, the outer reef and the beach were stunning. I chatted to the lady in the store, bought a coffee, had a loo stop (no need for a roadside stop later) and checked out the caravan park. A definite destination in the future.

Back on the road, I cruised into Geraldton behind the worlds worst driver. This driver pulled out of a side street in front of me on an 80k stretch. Then did 50 in the 80 zone driving half in the emergency lane. I guess he thought I might like to overtake him? Finally, at the roundabout coming into town, he rolled straight through with no regard for the other cars on the spread. Did I mention he was towing a huge caravan? Some people are so dangerous!

Having enjoyed my sandwich from the petrol station on the way up I figured I’d head there to fuel up again. I only know 2 people in Gero so what chance I’d see anyone I know? Well it is me. Walking in to pay for everything I came face to face with Karen*. Great chick and we said hey and chatted briefly. She was just buying the paper. What chance?

On the last leg now. Gero to Perth. The section to the turn off south of Dongara always takes more than I realise. I stuck to the Brand Hwy this time and felt a wave of tiredness about an hour into it but a guzzle of h2o fixed me. Unfortunately that was the end of my reachable water so the rest of the journal was dry. I could have stopped and got water from the fridge but couldn’t be bothered. I was thirsty most of the way home but at least I didn’t need a wee stop!

The 4 hours was consumed with good music, really loud through my headphones, with me belting it out. Here’s an idea of the mixed tape … We’ll call it Kalbarri to Perth (aka I had a fabulous holiday!).

It’s a long way to the top – Acca Dacca
Long enough to disappear – Adam Eckersley (love this song)
You’re unbelievable – INXS
Hold back the river – James Bay
Paisley park – the artist then known as Prince
I touch myself – Divinyls
Mother and child reunion – Paul Simon
Baby, it’s cold outside – Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews (what a song!)
Someone like you – Adele
Uptown funk – Mark Ronson (made me think of Master 11 and his cousin, also 11)
Comin home – The Radiators
Her Diamonds – Rob Thomas (twice, once on each device)
Black Betty – Ram Jam
Stupid girls – P!nk
Rain on a tin roof – James Blundell
This will be my year – Train
Take me to church – Hozier
Love walks in – Van Halen (the odd track appears in both play lists)
This afternoon – Nickelback
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
Men don’t dance – Beccy Cole
Geronimo – Shepard (I shout during this one!)
Black finger nails, red wine – Eskimo Joe
Rehab – Amy-shame-it-didn’t-work-Winehouse
Waka Waka – Shakira
Pumped up kicks – Foster the People
Blank space – Taylor Swift
Cool kids – Echosmith

And there I am, back in Perth and my holiday has refreshed me. I did it. All by myself. I am a big girl and I can do anything. I can be alone and I can be safe and do everything everyone else would do. I am a proud of myself for doing it and I can’t wait to do it again. I missed people and would have loved to share my time with someone else but I don’t have to. I can barely wait to go again. Look out world, here I come!

J

P.S. While I was unpacking I found water, in reach of me, locked and loaded on Liv! I swear, she hates me sometimes.

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