Hello D, R and d, Apparently Mr Bolo told you we were going away and you looked it up and you thought our destinations looked like a bit of heaven. So I thought I’d keep you up to date with the trip, a bit like I did for Vicky and Tricia when we went to Vietnam.
Friday 13th November
In hindsight the Black Friday thing should have been a warning. Despite that we planned to leave after work. Mr Bolo had a busy day so he wasn’t packed when I got there, was in a bad mood (and you know what he’s like when he’s in a bad mood ;-)) and was still making running repairs to the camper! Eventually we got away and headed out of the city, north bound along the Brand Hwy. The rain started almost straight away and by sunset it was persistent and looking like it would continue.
The new car wasn’t missing a beat though. It’s a bigger engine than Maz mark 1 and we can tell, based on the power. No changing up and down the gears. Mr Bolo was initially unhappy with fuel economy but then realised that the fuel tank is a lot smaller. It means more frequent fuel stops, but we stop every couple of hours to stretch or pee anyway. I have christened Maz mark 2 as Gigi because the number plate has GIG1 in the sequence. Tas looks good on board and we have a new formula for fitting everything in. Hopefully efficient. Mr Bolo has installed a “new lighting setup” and an “on tap audiovisual system” that makes him very happy. I am pleased we have abandoned instant hot water because it was always more trouble than it was worth, but let’s hope the solar showers and 12 volt shower pump satisfy Mr Bolo. Maz (aka Gigi) seems to cope fine with the weight, which I have requested is evenly distributed over the rear axle, which conveniently creates a small porch. That’s me, the Weight Nazi.
Eventually we arrived at Eneabba rec centre, a council run low cost campsite with toilets and hot showers. Just as we tucked into bed, the rain really started. Nothing like being warm amid dry … until Tas sprang a leak and I was woken by drips on my left arm! My whole pillow was wet and there was a second leak to my right, both contributing to the wet pillow! Awesome! Mr Bolo passed me a bowl to collect the drips from the left of my head and we put a towel to my right to catch those drips and I tried to sleep, conscious of not sending the bowl of water flying. As the rain stopped the dripping started so I swapped ends of the bed to escape the Chinese water torture. Just as we finally got back to sleep there was a knock on the door. Mr Carnamah council man collects his $5 per person camping fees very early in the day! Being COVID conscious we had no cash to give him so he negotiated to come back an hour later at 8am. Where the heck we get cash from within the hour is anyone’s guess!
Saturday 14th November
Good morning little d. I hope you slept well!
After such a good nights sleep for us we headed off in search of bread. Mr Bolo was going to get it fresh on Friday (because he didn’t want the stuff they baked on Thursday when we shopped) and completely forgot! We also need a couple of spuds for our roast dinner and there simply can’t be enough fresh coffee on days like today, so we stopped in Geraldton where no one was observing any social distancing. The closed border reopens today to a controlled border, meaning others from around Aus can come into the state. Peeps from NSW and Vic need to self isolate for 14 days on arrival, everyone else doesn’t. We are away for 17 days. What chaos may we be going back to, if people break the rules and spread the virus? Let’s hope this proves to be the right decision.
We drove 500kms today, arriving at Wooramel Station at 4.45pm. The plan is to relax here for a couple of days, to get into holiday mode. The drive from the highway to the reception is 2kms of lovely Australian corrugations that rattled Maz and Tas but Mr Bolo took it in his stride as did Maz. Check in was easy and we found an awesome riverfront site. It’s a HUGE river, flanked with river gums, home to equally huge falcons and their nests. The interesting thing about the river is that it is upside down. There’s not a drop of water visible because it’s all flowing underneath the river bed. They bring it to the surface for the artesian pools and the warm showers (no additional heating required). (Check out this footage of it flowing, just 10 weeks after we were there – February 2021). Needless to say, it didn’t take us long to get into swimmers and into the water. It’s the perfect temperature for me too. We timed our plunge with sunset and watched at least 8 satellites go overhead. The most we’ve ever spotted in an evening, all within minutes. Back home we enjoyed dinner overlooking the river at our million star site. We even saw a few falling stars. At this rate it’s not going to take long to get into holiday mode.
Sunday 15th November
Good afternoon beautiful people.
Now that was a much better sleep. Gosh it’s nice here. We had some lovely toast under the awning, facing the river, as if it’s flowing full of water, with dolphins expected to appear at any moment. Our morning toilet was taken in the awesome ensuite bathrooms just across the road. There are two bathrooms inside a roofless water tank. Lucky it’s roofless – I forgot my towel so Mr Bolo had to throw his over the beams to me for a lend.
There are loads of birds here. I love birds and photographing them so we spent the morning taking a walk westward along the river spotting ring necked parrots, corellas, magpies, falcons, butcher birds and galahs. My point and shoot camera does a pretty good job of getting a picture of these feathered creatures too. I’m especially pleased with the falcon. That bird was a long way away from us and the wind made it hard to keep the camera still too.
After a coffee on the riverside terrace we headed along for a dip in the artesian pool. The water is apparently therapeutic. Maybe it’ll help my dermatitis. It is certainly relaxing at somewhere about 33 degrees, straight out of the ground. It also has a tendency to stain things orange, thanks to the iron. I’m keeping my hair out of it for fear of it staining my expensive blonde colour! Although I think 10 days swimming in the Indian Ocean after we leave here will reverse any temporary brunette streaks.
Right now Mr Bolo and his orange legs are trying to hang a hammock in a riverside tree. The iron certainly took to those pearly white legs of his. He just came back with the hammock under his arm looking sheepish. Seems he forgot the relatively crucial ropes. This should be interesting. At the moment it looks like a huge kite. He finally got it sorted in a tree but looked uncomfortable so I’ve assisted him to relocate and provided him with his tablet and water, although he had the nerve to request a vodka slushie. Not til after we visit the museum.
D, I think you and R would really like the museum and it would be up high on your list of excellent world museums. It’s sort of like MONA in Tassie or any other place that collect the slightly more abstract pieces. I think Mr Orange Legs liked the cars best. He was heard to say “the chassis is good” on more than one occasion. I liked the caravan and think we could easily do a reno, but I’m not sure if the pieces in the museum are for sale. You can tap the pictures to see them individually. Let me know if you want me negotiate purchasing any pieces for you.
It’s now getting late and the wind has really started blowing. We had another wee dip in the pool just on sunset, after our vodka slushies, but we didn’t stay as late, the satellites weren’t visible when we left. It’s looking like an early night here because Mr Orange Legs can’t find the memory card for the shows on the wee tv. We have big plans for tomorrow so stay tuned …
Monday 16th November
So, little Miss d, not impressed by the museum hey? Like most museums it’s probably more impressive in person. Just as well we went yesterday though, cause it’s a bit hot here today. A much better day to be in the air conditioning (in the car). The place we are staying at has a self drive tour option for those who want to have a bit of a look around a very small part of the sheep, goat and cattle station. The station is really big. The part of it that is bordered by the ocean is 60kms long. That’s from Edinburgh to Coatbridge! Our tour covered about 6kms of that. That’s from your house to the Pentland Hills. In that space we saw a new bird, the Australian Bustard. Actually we saw about 15 of them. Mr Orange Legs thought they were emus! We also found a skeleton on the beach. Not a human but about the same length (maybe a bit longer). It’s from a sea animal that lives in the water that we call Shark Bay. Can you work out what animal it is? Here’s a clue. It feeds on grass!
After that section of the trip we turned and headed back for the main road, stopping at the old shearer’s shed. It stopped working in 2006 but it has a long history. Can you put the photos in the right order from when the sheep come into the shed, to where they are penned and how the pens open and close, to where they they are shorn and how the shears get their power, to where the wool gets placed after it is sorted? Can you work out what machines are involved to make it into square bales, weighed the bales and lift them onto the trucks to go to jetty? Can you see where the shearer’s lived and work out how many bedrooms there are and where their dinner was cooked? In case you are wondering what Mr Orange Legs is doing with his big puffed up face and arms in the air, he is pretending to be a bale of wool being weighed (that’s a clue for your puzzle). Interestingly those scales went up to 5 hundredweight. I did get them to balance, moving the big and little weight along (can you see the part of the scales that is balanced? You can zoom in). So a bale of wool weighs up to 250kgs or about the same as that animal that eats the grass (have you worked it out yet?). Poor sheep. It must be a heavy coat to wear in this hot weather.
After the shearer’s shed and quarters we went a bit further down the highway to find the jetty where the boats came in to pick up the wool to take it to market. The jetty is still there but it’s falling down and the town that used to be there (Gladstone) is all gone. It’s still allowed to be a town (still gazetted) but it’s a camp ground now. There was almost no one there and we didn’t see any of those animals that eat the grass. I have never seen a live one but I would love to. Here’s another clue, people think these animals are the origin of the idea of the Siren of the Sea, because the females hold and nurse their young just like human women. Unfortunately although they live for 70 years, they only have 1 or 2 babies, so they are at risk of extinction. That would be really sad. Have you worked out what it is yet?
Our last stop was a great lookout where Mr Orange Legs took one of his limited edition panoramic photos. From up there we could see the ocean in the distance and make out fences leading all the way there (about 6 kms). We are home now and have had a dip in the artesian pool. When we got here there was a cute little corella hanging out in the tree and we have just been visited by an Australian Raven. Miss d, have you worked out which bird is which? There are now pictures of a Bustard, a Falcon, a Corella, a Butcher Bird, a Galah, a Raven, a spark plug emu, a rare mustering aeroplane and a Honda pelican. I also added a bonus animal I found in a tree that isn’t normally in a tree. What do you think he was doing there?
Hello Little d,
We stayed up for a little while last night looking at the stars and counting satellites. We saw about 4 or 5 and we were wondering if we could see the rocket that they launched yesterday taking astronauts to the International Space Station. Mr Orange Legs looked up when the space station is visible over this part of the world. Unfortunately it is in the early hours of each morning. I’m not that keen on seeing it. I have seen it before, when it wizzed over Perth. Have you ever seen it in the sky? You should look it up and make a plan to go outside and watch it.
Did you work out what animal the skeleton belonged to? I know you are very clever, so I am sure that you did. Of course it was a dugong! And have you matched all the birds to their names? Did you put the pictures in the right order for the sheep shearing? Let me know if you want me to check your answers 😉
We had to leave Wooramel this morning so we could travel a bit further north. It took us a little while to get the camper on the tray correctly because Mr Orange Legs’ directions were slightly off. Eventually we got it sorted and started driving, first to Carnarvon for lunch and then to Coral Bay. On the way we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. Do you know what that is? I have been across it lots of times, in different parts of Australia. We have also crossed the Tropic of Cancer. In fact we have crossed both of them this year. We crossed Cancer while we were on the cruise in January and now Capricorn in November.
Once we crossed the imaginary line it didn’t take long to get here to Coral Bay. We got the little camper of easily and are set up next to a very big caravan! I think it makes us look even smaller. The caravan park is just across the road from the beach. The water is very very blue. I know there are lots of fish in there because I have been here before but I think Mr Orange Legs will get a surprise tomorrow.
Wednesday 18th November
Hello again little d. Good job with you answers but you didn’t tell me what you think the silly little lizard was doing up the tree!
Well, what a huge day of natural wonders! It started with a swim and snorkel straight off the beach. It’s a big bay here (Coral Bay) and the water at low tide starts right at the coral. It was low tide when we got on to the beach, before anyone else. Straight away we saw a little stingray, vacuuming along the edge of the water. That took Mr Orange Legs by surprise! The water felt cold, so it took us a while to get in but once we were over the drop off, the coral was right there underneath us, along with all sorts of fish. There are brain corals and branching corals and flat furry corals and corals that look like huge leaves or petals. There are also clam shells and of course fish. The fish range in size from tiny to huge and are not at all shy. They are mostly colourful, like bright yellow and rainbow, but there are also zebra striped and silver ones. We even saw the tail of a stingray who had parked himself underneath some coral. We had a couple of swims, drying of in between to warm up in the sun. By the time lunchtime came it was getting really warm so we spent a couple of hours in the shade back at our camper, watching the world go by.
There is a very long stretch of beach all the way to the north, so we decided to walk part of that in the afternoon. It’s part sandy, part rocky and without shoes the rocks slowed us down a bit. Eventually we made it to a sign, but because Mr Orange Legs didn’t have his glasses, he didn’t read it. We were at a small bay within the bay and chose to wade across it, with the water up to our knees. On the other side of the bay we decided to have a swim. Just as we were about to get in the water we noticed a black shadow swimming towards us. Then another, then many more. In fact as we walked further up the beach we encountered about 50 of these swimming black shadows, all within reach and in knee deep water! Some people walking towards us pointed out that these are sharks, something we had already determined for ourselves! Their sheer number was mind blowing and of course I forgot my camera!
Mr Orange Legs was now repeating “and we nearly swum there. I could have died” on a regular basis. We stayed and watched them for a while before wandering back and circling the little bay this time. As we did so we saw a school of fish doing just as the schools on Finding Nemo did, making shapes in the water. I threw a rock in to scatter them and scared a little stingray too. So cute but also something to give Mr Orange Legs reason to say “we just walked through that water. I could have died”. Crocodile Dundee he is not! Of course as we rounded the corner we came back to the sign. It’s very informative, not hard to read without glasses and explains that this part of Bills Bay is a shark sanctuary! It’s a safe place for pregnant mothers and young sharks to safely be. There are white tip, black tip, lemon and grey reef sharks. Turns out they are very scared and blind, and they scatter when they sense people in the water, but will come back if you stand still and then bump into you because they can’t see you! That was very cool experience that I would recommend to anyone. Do it at high tide be more sure of seeing them.
After all that excitement we walked back to Coral Bay and I had a swim with a few big fish circling round me, before we got out and met up with a kangaroo and joey in the small sand dune at the edge of the beach. Goodness me that was a busy day, chock full of nature’s best and not a picture to show for it. You’ll just have to take my word for it!
Thursday 19th November
Basically you can press repeat on yesterday and that is more or less what we did today. Swim and snorkel in the morning, rest out of the hot sun, go for a walk. This time we went the opposite direction, almost walking to the boat ramp. Nothing exciting happened on that part of the walk but when we came back the bay was full of little stingray rays, all hoovering the sand in the warm, shallow water. They look so cute. I took heaps of photos this time and some video that I will upload when I can.
Friday 20th November
No words today, just pictures. Can you work out what we did all day? I didn’t take these pictures but I saw all these things as I swam with the person who was taking the pictures (which are used here with permission). You can also see me in a few, wearing pink goggles, with Mr Orange Legs in blue goggles, and with my hands and fingers all spread out above the turtle. Awesome day in the Bay.
That’s a week of our holiday already gone. Yesterday was fabulous, although the trip was marketed as a manta ray snorkelling opportunity. Unfortunately for us the spotter plane couldn’t find any mantas but as you can tell from the photos, we had the best time. We also got a few tips for today when we snorkel in the bay.
We had 2 snorkels this morning. Our first was a drift snorkel from the 5 knot marker pole, also known as the Osprey pole, around to the bay, and our second was in the bay. The drift snorkel took as through the lavender patch, an area of purple corals. My favourite colour! We saw so many beautiful corals and fish, ending in the knee deep, warm water of the bay. Our second snorkel was within the bay, which has some great things to see just over the edge of the sand bar. How great? Well, thanks to my super snorkelling abilities just before we were about to get out of the water I spotted Nemo! Little d, have you seen the movie? If not, you must watch it and tell me your favourites part. And if you have, you can still tell me your favourite part! The fish that we saw is actually called the Australian anemone fish. There was just one in the anemone, and it’s the only one I have seen despite the amount of snorkelling we have done. Lucky for Mr Orange Legs, I was able to float above it and find it again to show him.
In the afternoon we walked around to the shark sanctuary again. There weren’t quite as many sharks but they were much closer to us, as we stood in knee deep water. The windy afternoon meant the water was choppy, so it’s hard to make out their shape. If you click the photos and zoom in, you’ll see the black lines in the water and maybe even a fin.
It’s our last night in Coral Bay. It’s been awesome not having to make lunch and dinner each day. We’ve eaten at the bakery, at Finns Cafe, at Bills pub and at the resort. Nothing has been cheap, even by Perth standards, but I guess that’s what happens when things have to be transported so far, and when you have a captive audience. Tomorrow we head for Exmouth.
We were up and out of the park by 09.30 and had breaky at the cafe. Mr Orange Legs had a Big Kev’s breaky pie, with tomato, egg, bacon, meat and cheese all in the one square pie! Not for me at that time of the day, but apparently very good. Big D, would you do a pie for breakfast? We drove through to Exmouth, making the hardware shop before it closed, restocking our supplies of food and drinks, and nearly dying of heat exhaustion in the process!
The only thing left to do today was drive around the cape to find our home for the next 5 days. We arrived at Osprey Bay about 2pm, set up the camper, including one awning tent for all our gear, Mr Orange Legs had a swim and we positioned our seats onto the back of Maz to watch the sunset. Absolutely gorgeous!
Monday (have you noticed I’ve lost track of the date?)
We have woken up to a wind free day. The water looks too good to ignore so we had a pre-breakfast swim and snorkel. There aren’t as many fish here as there is heaps of sea weed that the turtles like to eat. The reviews of this site claim that there are TURTLES! That’s why I chose it for us. Let’s hope they are still here – we didn’t see any during that swim.
After breaky we hatched a plan to head north and swim at Turquoise Bay. As we were about to leave, our neighbours (#1000backyards) returned from a swim saying they had seen and swum with turtles, right where we swam before breaky. So we ditched the Turquoise Bay plan and went back in, adventuring further out in the water, behind the first dark area (the weed) around it to the south and back in again. The fish life was more prolific out there and the water was standing depth the entire time. Just as my “turtle, turtle” chant was starting to sound monotonous Mr Orange Legs spotted one, which we followed for a short distance before we spotted another and then 2 more. The last 2 were feeding so we were able to float with them. Within arms reach, although we didn’t attempt to touch them. They were so awesome to be around. Chewing on the weed then rising to the surface to breathe, then descending again to eat weed. Each time they came up I popped my head out to see their little face. Absolutely awesome. Left me and Mr Orange Legs speechless! At one point one of the turtles ascended in my direction and looked me in the eye as much as to say “excuse me, I didn’t see you there”. We were almost nose to nose. Oh my goodness me! All by 10am on day 1 of this leg of our holiday. R, I am not sure what your experience was on the Great Barrier Reef, but I think you would have loved this!
After lunch we decided to head up the road to the information centre to check messages, go to the tap for water for showers and then call in at Turquoise bay. Mr Orange Legs: “why is it called turquoise bay”. Me: “because it’s pink!” We had intended to walk down to the south end and do the drift snorkel but all we did was flop into the stunningly clear water and swim with dart and other big fish in the shallows. They are loads of fun, the way they swim around you and stream behind you when you swim in a straight line, as if they want to know where you are going and if they can come along.
Back home we had another swim, this time with a beer in hand. Mr Orange Legs has not been out of his boardies and rashie all day. Little d, do you know what boardies and a rashie are? His are Mambo brand and mostly black. I am now renaming him Mambo Man! The brand uses cartoons that were designed by one of the singers from one of Australia’s best bands, Mental as Anything. I love their song Live it Up. Little d, do you like it? Mambo Man has also been making up stupid songs, especially about Going to the Cludgie. Occasionally that has lead to me calling him the Black Wiggle. Little d, do you (or did you) like the Wiggles and do you think they need a Black one who sings about toilets? Do you think it could be a hit?
Hello D, R and d. I know you will read this and the rest of this weeks entries a few days after events happen. That’s because we have no internet at our campsite. There is a relayed Telstra signal at the Milyering information centre but we are just using that to check messages.
Today is an bit of an exciting day and a bit of a nervous day (for me). We are going on a joy flight on the Krill Seeker. Apparently it is a spotter plane, usually used for the tour boats that take tourists out to swim with the whale sharks (that eat krill). Fortunately there is no wind, so hopefully I won’t feel too travel sick. We fly at 09.00, until 10.00, so it’s an early start from here, leaving at 07.30. No coffee for me, to reduce the likelihood of feeling sick.
We arrived at the aerodrome at 08.30 and met Tiffany, our lovely pilot, who gave us a life jacket demo, before we boarded the back 2 seats of a 4 seater plane, painted to look like a whale shark. Tiffany put a go pro camera on the wing so some of the photos are ones she freely shared with us (used with permission) while the rest are mine. Here’s an interesting statistic showing that gendered roles are still alive and well in Australia – according to Tiffany only 6% of the 38000 commercial pilots in Australia are female. Let’s hope these stat change in little d’s lifetime.
Back to the flight … We took off to the south climbing to 800 feet and turned to the west. By the time we levelled out I couldn’t stop smiling! We we way above the world, tracking between Charles Knife gorge and Shothole gorge. Both looked spectacular from the air, with a path joining the two, although the walk looked strenuous and would be extreme in this weather. Soon we had the sea in sight and made a bee line for Turquoise Bay. From the air both the bay and the drift beach were beautiful. The turquoise colour is vivid. Tiffany started saying “there’s a turtle” pretty much straight away. I was too busy loving the view. We tracked down the coast to our campsite where we did a plane wave and looped around our little camper. “The towels are dry”. Next we headed further south to Yardley Creek, flying along the edge of the gorge and turning around at the end, where the 120 year old Osprey nests are. Back to the coast we cruised along, spotting manta rays, eagle rays and dolphins. The more you look the easier it becomes to see them. The mantas a Batman symbol shaped. The pod of dolphins looked like thin silver lines, some crossed over others depending on their depth in the water. The eagle rays don’t have the lobes like the mantas do. Then I could make out the turtles. On the dark blue to black water, they were small brown dots. Not so small actually. I could make out their flippers moving through the water. As we came back up the coast, approaching Wobiri beach Tiffany looked for a spot where she had seen “a couple of hundred” turtles on a previous flight. Without much difficulty she found the spot, probably because there were actually more like 1000. The photos below are labelled. Click on them and zoom in. The dots are the sea life. There’s one for the turtles and another for the shark school on the eastern side, in the gulf.
Back on the western side, we approached the headland and the lighthouse, before rounding the cape and coming across the wreck of the Mildura. The boat was carrying cattle when it hit the reef just offshore. The captain chose, after the crew were rescued, to drive the ship towards the shore in an attempt to run it aground to save the cattle. Unfortunately that didn’t help; all the cattle drowned. That all happened in 1902! And it’s still hugely intact and visible. Especially from the air.
Further around the cape and into the gulf, Tiffany found the sharks and in the channel there I spotted a manta ray and then 3 dugongs! Tiffany was so happy that we saw so much wildlife and that the weather had been so perfect. There were no white caps or wind interference in the surface of the water. Our visibility was amazing. The final few minutes of the trip we flew to the east of the town (Exmouth) and over the tip! We landed safely at the aerodrome at 10.05.
Mambo Man and I just looked at each other, completely speechless. My nerves about a failure in the single engine, the pilot having a heart attack mid flightier some other emergency happening were all forgotten the minute we took off. Tiffany was an awesome, professional pilot and a great tour guide. She is clearly in love with her work and where she does it. The weather gods looked kindly on us, giving us the most perfect conditions. And the sea creatures … thank you one and all! Whatever else happens on this holiday, or happened up to today, won’t be able to top that! If you want to try this experience go with Ningaloo Aviation. It’s Tiffany’s business and she is truly professional. The cost is worth every cent and more, and the whole thing will leave you breathless!
Being back on the ground I realised how hungry I was so breaky in town was needed. We found a cute cafe, Social Society (#soso), serving up great coffee and juice, and a vegetarian menu (we aren’t veggies). Eggs on toast! Yummo. While we were in town, after our turtle encounter in the water yesterday, we tried to buy a go pro, an underwater camera. Although there are stockists in town, they were sold out! Not surprising really.
Back in Maz we headed out to Charles Knife gorge and ascended all the way to the top, heading west following the path of our flight 5is morning. We eventually got to the highest point, from where we could see the coast to the west, in the direction of Turquoise Bay. All roads lead to Turquoise Bay. We passed on Shothole Gorge, leaving us somewhere to go next time we are in Exmouth. We turned to take our time back around the cape and home. Down the main road through town , Daddy Emu was out with the 5 kids. Little d, did you know that Daddy emu looks after the eggs and raises the chicks, leaving Mummy emu free to do other things? This daddy emu needs to keep a closer eye on his little ones, who were wandering across the road while he was still in the park! Having seen the wreck from the air we decided to have a look at it from sea level, where we also appraised the highest man made structure in the Southern Hemisphere (and the second highest)! It’s a very low frequency aerial, used for communicating with submarines. Remember I said we flew at 800 feet? This aerial is 1200 feet tall, another third higher than we flew. From the ground they don’t look that tall, possibly because they are thin, but from the lighthouse cape we could see that they are really tall. Why do you need such a tall aerial to communicate with something under the sea? Big D, any ideas? FYI, there was another taller structure in Victoria but is was deconstructed when someone died after BASE jumping from it in 2015. Of course the 386m of this structure is nothing in comparison to Burj Khalifa in Dubai that is over 800m high!
The final 2 sightseeing spots were the Lighthouse, where there are some sandbags made during the Second World War to protect a radar tower on the cape, followed by the Tantabiddiboat ramp where a couple of turtles where cruising. Back home our neighbours were keen to hear about our flight, saying they had come out and where madly waving at the plane as we circled above. We enjoyed “6 o’clock drinks” with 3 other couples and Greg the camp caretaker.
What an awesome day we have had. It’ll be hard to beat on this holiday or any future one, here or overseas, for that matter. When are you three coming over so we can bring you here?
Another beautiful, calm day, with just light winds, but no white caps or flapping canvas.
This morning we went to Turquoise Bay with the intention of snorkeling the drift. The idea is that you park the car, take your snorkeling gear for a walk along the beach in a southerly direction get in the water and drift back up the way you walked, all the way into the bay. I’ve done it before and it’s a good way to see heaps while doing very little. However we parked the car and got no further than the bay before we decided to just get in the water and see what we could see. We are so glad we did. Not far at all from the beach we saw some small coral formations with heaps of cool fish. I especially like the parrot fish, the Hawaiian trigger fish and the surgeon fish. As the parrot fish nibble on the coral you can hear the snapping of the bits they break off. Mambo Man spotted a red 6 fingered star fish that wasn’t at all shaped like a star! It was really strange. I saw and swam over a blue spotted fan tail ray, hoovering the bottom of the bay. We ventured out a bit deeper, but no further than any other snorklers and a black tip reef shark swam straight across Mambo Man’s path. I was behind him and saw it but he completely missed it. I have to say, I nearly pee’d myself! I was calling him and trying to alert him but he was too busy being fascinated by another one he had found!
Back in much shallower water we found more coral with whole communities of fish. I saw the most handsome juvenile blue angelfish. You have to imagine me doing fist pumps in the water. I was that excited! I also spent a fair bit of time watching 2 Wassinki cardinal fish. They seem to glow in the water. I also found a couple of yellow butterfly fish lined up waiting for the Common Cleanerfish to give them a good grooming. The goat fish we saw confused me. I had them pegged for catfish, given it looks like they have whiskers. Turns out their whiskers are more like a goatee beard! They seemed to like being in a school with others of their kind. Two other fish we saw today that I really like are the boxfish, one black one and one yellow one. Mambo Man’s favourite is the blue damsel. They are pretty awesome, as are the little schooling pullers. We saw so many more fish today, but the trevally and dart in the shallows, that stream along behind you as you crawl along in the sand on your hands, are some of the most fun!
Because we are so close to it, we decided to take a quick drive down to Yardie Creek. It looks fabulous and next time we come up we intend to bring our kayaks so we can paddle in and investigate it. There are some very sure footed wallabies that live in there that I would love to see. In the later afternoon we walked to the south of our campsite encountering two crazy crabs, about the size of Big D’s fist, that were carrying on like crazy, running in and out of the breaking waves. One was yellow and the other a more normal brown colour. Personally, while I think they are sort of cute, they are also sort of creepy because they remind me of spiders. To round out our day, very late in the evening, we took a roadie (Australian slang, meaning a beer for the journey) and walked in the moonlight along the beach to the north, traversing about half of Sandy Bay. We were hoping to see turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, but all we saw was some tracks for one that had come out of the water and gone straight back in, as well as the dark shadows of many sting rays hoovering the shallow waters and millions of those yellow crabs, running amok in the breaking waves. No turtles but another great day on Ningaloo!
Good morning little d, R and D. Wish you were here!
Today we are going for a snorkel at Lakeside. It’s near the info centre that has the signal for the internet, so we can check on everyone while we are there.
The snorkelling spot is a 500m walk up the beach. It is a great patch of reef that is just off the beach, in a very specific area, clearly defined and easily identified by yellow sanctuary markers on the beach and in the water. The wind was up a bit today and it appeared as though there may be a slight current from the south the the north, so we walked a bit further along before we got in the water. Once we were in we kept the reef on our left and the sand on our right, drifting north with the current.
Under the water there is a whole great world of coral and fish. As soon as I put my head in I saw the red catfish. He saw me too and ducked straight under the coral. Speaking of coral, there are so many types and we saw heaps here at Lakeside. There was a really great shelf, some bright purple boulder coral, some cabbage leaves and a really big yellow coloured boulder that Mambo Man decided to try to go over. He had to suck that tummy in! We did 4 drifts, south to north, getting out each time and walking back up the beach. Here’s a list of some of the fish we saw.
Moorish idol (I was really hoping to see this, so I was thrilled when I did).
A huge box fish – big enough for Christmas presents!
A very big, normal shaped fish, maybe a tomato rock cod.
A huge bat fish, but no bands of couple on it and we couldn’t see a wing. Or it could have been a tang. I was squeezing Mambo Man’s arm when we saw that one!
Velvet surgeon fish. It is such a pretty fish!
Scissor tail Sargent. They are so inquisitive and just seem to want to hang out with you as you swim around.
Humbugs. Too cute!
A small school of stunning surf or palenose parrot fish. So attractive!
A greenfin parrot fish, sliding sideways along the bottom.
When we got out of the water Mambo Man and I were both so excited. Despite the white caps, the underwater world was amazing and we couldn’t stop telling each other what we had seen and trying to work out what they were and remember enough features to loom them up. We bought a Snorkellers Guide To Ningaloo Reef book when we were in Exmouth and I am using a good website for the hyperlinks in this description. Next time we come here we will definitely have an underwater camera and then we can identify even more.
Back home for lunch, and a rest out of the sun, we packed up the awning tent before the wind took care of it for us! The little camper looks so different when it’s all naked. It looks little. Just don’t tell Mambo Man that it looks cute. He hates that! We also wandered over to our neighbours house to ask them about seeing the turtles lay there eggs. They advised we head to Wobiri for sunset and we should be lucky. So that’s what we did. And boy were we ever lucky! We saw about 7 or 8 turtles come out of the water. Having read the guidelines, requirements and code of conduct in the Ningaloo Information Book from the visitors centre (see the picture below) we knew what to do.
R, I think this would have blown your mind. A smaller turtle came out of the water just a few metres before starting to dig her hole. Pretty quickly, using her front flippers, she had a hole that was big enough for her to be in, with room to spare. At this point we approached her from behind and waited until sand stopped being flicked backwards. Then I crawled to the back of the hole and laid on my belly so I could look into the hole (just like in the picture). If I had wanted to I could have touched her, but instead I watched as she used her back flippers to carefully dig a deep hole about the width of a dinner plate. She did this so expertly! It was like she had scoops instead of flippers. The hole seemed to be about the length of my forearm. When she was happy with that depth she used her back flippers to line the hole and her tail extended into the hole and she laid her eggs! Remember I said that it would take a lot to beat the thrill of the joy flight? This just did exactly that! When she was done laying, she used her back flippers to fill in the hole, over filling it with a tower of wet sand, just to be sure. Again, she was so purposeful and precise. When she was happy with that she started digging so she could move forward and as she did so, she flicked sand backwards over the hole. She kept doing this until she had moved forward at least a couple of body lengths and completely covered her original hole. She was also completely covered in sand herself and looked exhausted. Mambo Man and I were completely speechless. Neither of us could believe what we had just seen.
Meantime, two much bigger turtles were going through the same process further up the sand, in the dunes. When I say bigger, little d, these turtles were the length of the bench in your kitchen! Of course they were oval, and at their widest points, were also as wide as your bench. So, draw an imaginary oval shape on your kitchen bench, from end to end, and side to side, and that’s how big the turtles’ shells were. And of course they are fairly tall too. About as tall as Big D’s knee. How they can even move on the sand is amazing. They must be so heavy! Both of these turtles dug a hole and then chose not to lay their eggs. Instead they both dug second holes! So much effort. Turtle 2 didn’t like her 2nd hole and ended up abandoning the whole thing and going back to the water. We watched her, the same as we watched the little turtle, from behind, lying on our bellies. She was just mind blowingly HUGE! Turtle 3 also didn’t like her 2nd hole. We had been lying behind her as she dug it, getting sand flicked all over us and grinning from ear to ear at each other! She opted to moved further up the sand dune to dig a 3rd hole! By this time it was 10.30 and we decided to leave her to it, with our very best wishes for a speedy delivery of her precious eggs!
For all we had been speechless before, Mambo Man and I could barely shut up all the way back to Osprey Bay. When we got back we could barely sleep because of the adrenaline coursing through us. Neither of us can believe what we got to see and just how amazing it was. All that effort to lay up to a hundred eggs. Of all the eggs laid, only 1 in 1000 will survive. You would think that evolution would have sorted that out. Too much effort, from too many turtles, to get 1 survivor!
It’s move on day today, turning the corner for home. Having packed up a lot yesterday, it didn’t take us long to finish the pack up and get on our way. Because we were so reluctant to leave, we called in at Turquoise Bay for one last swim, spotting two flutemouth fish! Mambo Man thinks they were about a meter long, with noses about 25cm in length. They were really cool! Lucky us and lucky we had a last swim.
To avoid being sandy and salty all day, we stopped for a roadside shower (no pictures thanks) before heading for lunch at the Beach Shack just near the VLF towers. An awesome little spot, right on the water. Very laid back.
Finally we fuelled up and really hit the road for a few rough hours in the car. The wind was totally against us all afternoon. We saw dust Willie Willies (do you know what these are little d?) and even ended the day in the midst of a dust storm! Our fuel economy was horrendous; at worst we used 20.88 litres of diesel every 100kms. Mambo Man drove the whole way, but we had some good tunes thanks to my DJ’ing! Most of the way we were driving between the big red desert sand dunes. In this part of the world the desert goes all the way to the sea. At our camp at Osprey Bay the short gravel road traversed 2 red sand dunes to meet the white sand dunes. Such dry, desolate, dusty land meets beautiful blue, clear, life filled water.
There are a few things on the land. In some of the trees there are spiders that build huge nests that creep me out! Some trees are like apartment blocks, full of nests. There are also ants nests. Around here they ALL look like the poo emoji. We found one with eyes. I sent a picture of it to The Piper “Jim and the poo”. He replied “I can only see two poos”. Jim called him “a wee jobby”. What do you think little d?
Finally, bang on sunset we arrived at Wooramel to spend the night tucked in behind some trees, hoping not to get swept up and wake up in Kansas!
Fortunately we woke up right where we fell asleep, with hundreds of corellas screeching around. Check out this bit of video. Our drive today was a lot easier than yesterday, along roads lined with yellow grevillas and flowering banksia, some of which were suffering from gall infestation. We also admired a beautiful hot pick shrub and a stunning red plant. The WA Christmas bush has finished flowering while we have been away, at least around these parts.
Just in time for lunch, we arrived at the new Skywalk in the Kalbarri National Park. There are actually 2 skywalks that project out over the gorge. They are awesome and at one point, for a very short period of time, we had one of them to ourselves. Can you see Mambo Man on the end of the walk?
Mid afternoon we arrived at Kalbarri. I’ve been here before and stayed in the same caravan park. We got a good site, with river views and about three steps onto the main road. After a quick setup we wandered off for a walk around town and up to the smaller lookout. It’s really windy here and much cooler than Exmouth was when we left yesterday! On our way back to the camper we came across a few local kids and had a chat to them about the high school, explaining we were interested because Mambo Man is a teacher (well he will be soon). They were normal teens, being smart arses and bagging their school a bit. As they road off on their bikes and skateboards one turned back around and looked at Mambo Man and shouted “see ya Sir!” He’s a popular teacher already!
Ahhh, it’s almost all over. One day to go. The plan is to fill it up.
We started with boat hire, a tinny with a bimini and a wee small motor. Little d, you will have to practice your Aussie slang. A tinny is a small boat. The bimini is the shade cover. Unfortunately thanks to the full moon, the tide was too low to motor far, but we did go down the river, past the marina and across to the other side. We took my drone but wind really came up and I was afraid we would lose it. Instead we left our initials with seaweed right in the spot where we could see the back door of the camper, hoping that back at the camper we would be able to see them through binoculars and with the zoom lens on my camera …
Captain James (not Cook, but same last name initial) got us safely back to the mainland in time for coffee in a nice cafe. He commented that it may even be to Big D’s standard – apparently Subi is the benchmark. We spent the rest of the day eating, first lunch at the pub then dinner at the tavern (the pub was better), watching cricket on tv (Australia won), walking to the Zutydorp lookout and to the high school. We will be back to Kalbarri, just so we can potter further up the river in a tinny. Hopefully you’ll be with us little d!
Who cares what day it is
One last chance for food I don’t have to cook. It’ll be a strict diet and loads of alcohol free days, to shed the extra weight when we get home (just in time to eat again at Christmas).
After a yummy breakfast we hit the windy (not windy) road. Not far down the coast road, south from Kalbarri, I spotted a pink cloud. Then more pink clouds. Little d, before you read on or look at the pictures, have a look at a map of that area and see if you can work out why there are pink clouds there. The reason for the clouds (the pink lake) looked extremely pretty today and I was super annoyed it was too windy for my drone again! It would have been amazing to launch it there. Next time …
Just around the corner, literally there are some buildings and some building ruins that are left from the time WA was invaded and colonised. They comprise Lynton convict depot and Sanford Homestead. I’ve wanted to stop there before and today we had time. Both sites have some great history. The convict depot was a place people could buy and sell other people that they needed for work. Convicts were held there, with a magistrate and jailers, while they waited to be bought. One story from this site is particularly interesting. The commissariat’s wife, Anna, moved on from there some years later to Siam and taught the Kings children. Big D and R might recall a story called the King and I about the King of Siam and Anna! What a curious link. Apparently her story is a tangled one, comprising almost as much truth as fiction, but intriguing nonetheless.
Sanford house, the stables and the mill were equally as interesting and we wandered through the buildings for a good while, admiring not just the architecture and construction but also the relics inside and out. It seems Mr Sanford was quite the pain in the you-know-where, a man with a short temper. He did have a nice house though, with more than enough room for his staff and a fabulous view of the ocean to the west, and the pink lake to the north.
Eventually we agreed we should make tracks so we can make it to work tomorrow. We did manage to squeeze in a delicious lunch in Geraldton (hard to believe, but true) before battling the dreaded wind all the way home. We also had a three encounters with big trucks, carrying big loads up the the Brand Hwy. Check out this video of one of them, their loads being 7.4m wide, taking up the whole road. The pilot driver who was well in front, contacted us on the radio so we could move off the road and stop while they passed.
And just like that it’s all over. Give me a couple of days, then have a look here for our reflections and the cost breakdown. In the meantime I hope you have all enjoyed reading about our adventure, that happened in our own backyard! We can’t wait to do it all again …