Tuesday 17 August
It seems like I have so much to report since my last post – we have been to Kalbarri and Geraldton and a few other places in between. We have now landed in a Council bushcamp, which fortunately has Optus service. This is a really quiet and tranquil spot, but you will have to wait for my next post to read all about it. In the meantime, there was so much of interest around the Kalbarri and Geraldton areas. However, our visit to Geraldton was marred by some very disappointing news.
For our day in the Kalbarri area, we stayed two nights at a 24 hour free campground, about 65 km from Kalbarri. This is a very popular campground and some visitors stay much longer (who checks?). It has areas to the north and south of the Murchison River, which was flowing, unlike the Wooramel River.
On the afternoon before we arrived, we received an email cancelling a pre-booked trip to the Abrolhos Islands. This was to be one of the highlights of our trip. It was a full day, travelling to the islands by boat and spending time checking out the beaches and wildlife. The reason it was cancelled was lack of numbers on account of the number of cancelled bookings from people in lockdown in NSW and VIC. So, the Covid ripple caught up with us. Unfortunately, there is no other way to get to the islands. We were both very disappointed. But, we need to come back to do this trip (as if we need an excuse).
However, our day started with a visit to the visitor centre in Kalbarri, which didn’t give us much more information that we already had and then out to the Kalbarri National Park.
The key attraction in the park is the Sky Walk. These are essentially two walkways that project over the gorge below to give magnificent views down into and along the gorge.
From there we visited a few other lookouts that took in the other gorges in the Park. This included a short walk to Natures Window. I am sure there are a million other photos like this, but here it is:
Kalbarri bore the brunt of Cyclone Seroja in April and there is still a lot of evidence of the damage it caused. However, the town is recovering and seems like a good place to live.
Travelling to Geraldton
On Saturday we made our way to Geraldton. It was not as great distance so, as we had a campsite booked, we took time to stop off a few lookouts along the cliffs on the way. This included the Natural Bridge and the Island Rock.
Further down the road we seemed to cross a line that delineated the change from native bushland to agriculture. All of a sudden, we had lush green paddocks on both sides of the road (we think wheat) and rolling hills with trees and green grass. Of course, with this change came a change in the climate – for a couple of nights it was double sleeping bags and a beanie for me! (It has warmed up a bit now though).
We also started to see the first of the famous WA wildflowers – carpets of white and yellow.
The other highlight was the Pink Lake. This gets it colour from high levels of beta-carotene, a food-colouring agent and a source of Vitamin A which is harvested by BASF in much the same way as salt further north.
We had booked a caravan park close to the port so that we could get to our 8 o’clock Abrolhos Island departure, that didn’t happen. Of course, this caravan park is located on the peninsula, exposed to the strong winds that have followed us down the coast. I thought I had won with the trailer orientation – the first night, we cooked no problem. By morning, the wind had swung round and dropped a few degrees – and it stayed like that until last night before we left. Once again, the camp kitchen saved us!
With a spare day in hand, we spent the day looking round Geraldton:
- A visit to the market
- The Museum (which has an excellent exhibition of the Batavia)
- The lighthouse
- The HMAS Sydney memorial
- The port lookout
Of course, a visit to a major town cannot go without dropping into to Coles to stock up on provisions.
Yesterday we drove a 400 km round trip to see the wildflowers. Our first stop was Greenough to see the heritage village. It was really interesting to read about the life there, particularly as it is one of the windiest spots on the west coast. Even the trees can’t resist the wind:
After morning coffee at Ellendale Pool, our first wildflower stop was Canna. This is where the orchids can be found, four of which we managed to locate: the Cowslip, the Donkey, the Spider and the Blue Fairy.
There were other tracks in the area, but we wanted time to drive to Pindar. About six kilometres out of the old settlement is the only place that wreath flowers grow and we were fortunate that they were in full bloom for our visit. They grow on the sides of a stretch of road about 250 metres long and they only last a few weeks. So, we were very lucky to see these:
We arrived back late in the afternoon for another visit to Coles, to refuel and to pick up takeaway fish and chips. Miraculously, the wind had disappeared, so we had a pleasant evening, planning our next few stops and completing our South Australia border pass application. Yes, our return to Victoria is looming, but hearing about the restrictions, we are not relishing the thought!