Port Denison and Dongara

WA Day weekend
The intention with this minibreak was to escape some of the cold and predicted wet weather by going north for a few days. We also wanted to try out our new bikes as a way to get around in a place when we stay put for a few days.
We headed off after work on Friday with The Piper and his best mate, in The Middle Child’s car (my brother). The drive up was uneventful and we arrived in good time to a great site, with an ensuite, one row back from the water. The surf was pounding and the night was cool but not cold. As usual the camper was up quickly, although the same can’t be said for the tent that the tweens were making their home. Finally they focused on the task at hand, rather than the fishing prospects and had the tent (sort of) up and moved their belongings in. With that done and dinner eaten they were off to the jetty to wet their lines. I think the other residents of the caravan park were grateful!
We also took a little walk around, just to have a look at the water that we could hear so loudly. The weather was threatening to do horrible things and this was certainly reflected in the pounding surf and surging water. The sound is familiar to me for years of living with the sound of the ocean in the distance. I didn’t realise how much I had missed it. Having stretched our legs we headed for bed just as the heavens opened and dumped a lovely coastal storm on us. We all stayed dry, though the belongings of the tweens were damp in the morning …

Saturday threatened to be horrible for the duration but we decided to head up to the Greenough River mouth anyway. With the bikes on the rack we planned to ride the track but the tweens planned to sabotage that, to good effect. Along with the drizzling rain and hungry bellies they managed to kill the mood and we ended up in Geraldton for a late lunch before cruising back to Dongara, via the historic village of Greenough, late in the afternoon. The tweens then headed straight for the newly spotted BMX track and there they stayed for almost the entire weekend, with their newfound friends. This left us with the chance to wander Port Denison, admiring the boats at the jetty and stashing the odd cache. And just like that Saturday was gone.

Sunday was a much nicer day and with the tweens doing laps of the BMX park we headed for the twin towns experience on our new-to-us bikes. Of course the plan was to nab the caches, with basically took us to all the interesting places in and around the town. The first stop was the river bank, on the south side, for a quick medium cache before a lovely riverside cycle along a well-used path past a semi restored colonial home. Our next stop was Russ Cottage, built in the late 1860’s and restored by the Irwin District Historical Society and furnished as a 1870s yeoman’s cottage. This place gives you a feel for the way the town would have been and the challenge of living too close to a flood prone river.
Onwards to the The Priory Hotel, a magnificent building on the banks of the Irwin River. Originally built in 1881 as a colonial inn it later housed the St Dominic’s Priory for seventy years as a private boarding school. In 1899 a small group of Dominican Sisters from New Zealand moved to Greenough. In 1901 they relocated to Dongara and established St Dominic’s Priory, then in 1928, the Dominican Ladies College. In 1971 severe flooding from the Irwin River made it necessary for them to relocate to Perth. Anyway, now it’s a hotel and the person or people responsible for turning it into a hotel may not find peace in heaven. Perhaps it’s popular at other times but it was certainly quite that Sunday.
From here we went in search of the nun’s memorial. This proved to be a little bit tricky but with the GPS cords (from the geocaching app) we eventually found what proved to be a wonderful, quiet place to acknowledge the sisters. At this memorial site Dominican Sisters who devoted their lives to serving the people of the Geraldton Diocese during the years 1899 – 1957 were originally buried. In 1996, the decision was made to transfer the remains of the deceased to the Sister’s plot in Karrakatta Cemetery, Perth and so this site stands as a peaceful memorial. Unfortunately, despite an extensive and exhaustive search we couldn’t locate the cache!

By now it was lunch time so we headed for the bakery and stocked up on the good old country pie and Chelsea bun. The tweens were pleased to see us and we filled their empty bellies and those of their friends too before we watched them do some jetty jumping into cold sea water. Those boys are mad! Then we all headed off in different directions again. We made for the southern end of Post Denison and a look at the Fishermen’s Lookout Obelisk, with great ocean and harbour views. The threat of a fierce looking storm moved us along at a rate of knots but it was just a threat, with the rain holding off all afternoon.
This time we crossed the river and stopped for a sneaky, quiet beer in the local establishment. Not ones to ride under the influence we stopped at one and headed off again in search of the origins of the Kailis families fishing empire. There’s not much to see but from there we headed to the northern river mouth and loved every minute of our ride through the bush land and along the northern river bank. With the sun setting there were some great opportunities for photos. In fact, we made it back to the Port Denison lookout just in time for sunset and were home in time for another lovely beer as the final light faded.
Our dinner this evening was enjoyed at Southerly Harbour View Bar and Restaurant where we enjoyed dinner while we played Yahtzee. This never ceases to amaze staff at places where we eat but it passes the time for the kids and is great fun too. We all scored a Yahtzee this time, making for even greater excitement. It’s probably just as well we got there reasonably late the place was quiet …

As always, weekends go too fast and before we were ready, we were packing up a slightly damp tent and camper and headed back to the real world. But not before a leisurely drive home along the coast including a stop at the sand dunes just north of Green Head and a stop in town for a drink. This part of the world is fantastic and I’m sure we will be back many times to play in the sand, surf, sun and fresh sea air. See you out there …

%d bloggers like this: