A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about coast

Broome to Karijini National Park

...via Eighty Mile Beach, Cape Keraudren and Port Hedland

sunny 28 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

Broome had more to offer but we had had to make advance bookings at other sites, so had to move on. We set off on a 379km drive to Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park. We stopped at Sandfire Roadhouse for an obligatory beer on the way. I believe the roadhouse burnt down a few years back - maybe it had more character then as it did not live up to other Outback roadhouses but is OK for a rest stop.

The bar area

The bar area

large_e5cc3660-da2d-11e9-91c1-054d888b2569.jpgTwo views of the front of the roadhouse

Two views of the front of the roadhouse

At Eighty Mile Beach we had a very nice cabin with the only drawback being that, as it was made of metal, wifi and phone reception was zilch! We had known nothing about this place but it was yet another place where a longer stay would have been most enjoyable. The beach is great for beach-combing and the birdlife is pretty good. It is also a very sociable place, to judge from our brief experience.

Our cabin and vehicle

Our cabin and vehicle

View of part of the park from dunes

View of part of the park from dunes

White-breasted Woodswallow

White-breasted Woodswallow

Tree beginning to fill with White-breasted Woodswallows

Tree beginning to fill with White-breasted Woodswallows

It's a long beach!

It's a long beach!

And it is smothered with seashells

And it is smothered with seashells

A beautiful White-bellied Sea-eagle cruised by

A beautiful White-bellied Sea-eagle cruised by

Some walkers on the beach at sunset

Some walkers on the beach at sunset

Australian Pied Oystercatchers joined the party on the beach as the sun went down

Australian Pied Oystercatchers joined the party on the beach as the sun went down

The sun setting over the beach

The sun setting over the beach

The beach became so peaceful after the sun had gone down

The beach became so peaceful after the sun had gone down

Eighty Mile Beach lies along the north-west coast of Western Australia about half-way between the towns of Broome and Port Hedland. The beach is some 220km in length (so a good deal more than its name would suggest!), forming the coastline where the Great Sandy Desert approaches the Indian Ocean. It is one of the most important sites for migratory shorebirds, or waders, in Australia, and is recognised as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. (Wikipedia)

We delayed leaving the park in order to find some more birds and then drove on down the coast (289km to Port Hedland, so no rush).

White-winged Fairy-wren (a pretty little bird but I would love to have seen on in breeding plumage!)

White-winged Fairy-wren (a pretty little bird but I would love to have seen on in breeding plumage!)

One of many Zebra Finches

One of many Zebra Finches

The drive south was through low coastal bush or sandbush, so not enthralling and we were glad to find a turn off to Cape Keraudren where we had our lunch by the sea. A couple camped nearby had a superb collection of shells which they had gathered from the beach, so we had a wander and picked up a few very nice pieces.

Not all of the beach is sandy!

Not all of the beach is sandy!

A Hermit Crab in its shell

A Hermit Crab in its shell

Hermit Crab almost out of its shell - it was quickly returned to terra firma

Hermit Crab almost out of its shell - it was quickly returned to terra firma

Ruddy Turnstones and Grey-tailed Tattlers on the rocks by the beach

Ruddy Turnstones and Grey-tailed Tattlers on the rocks by the beach

Eastern Reef Egret

Eastern Reef Egret

We then drove to Cootenbrand Creek, a short way along the beach, where there was good fishing, good birdlife and, walking along to the sea, more birds and shells - a pretty good, unplanned, stop. I have been unable to find the origin of the creek's name.

0b9bec60-da69-11e9-a654-b3120c77ab39.jpgTwo views of the creek

Two views of the creek

A couple of Brolgas made a brief appearance near the creek

A couple of Brolgas made a brief appearance near the creek

Whistling Kite

Whistling Kite

The fishing is good!

The fishing is good!

A scattering of Sea Urchin cases cast up on the beach

A scattering of Sea Urchin cases cast up on the beach

Three Beach Stone-curlews

Three Beach Stone-curlews

Two Beach Stone-curlews in flight

Two Beach Stone-curlews in flight

One of the Sea Urchin cases, showing lovely markings

One of the Sea Urchin cases, showing lovely markings

Cape Keraudren is located at the southern end of Eighty Mile Beach and was charted in 1801 by a French expedition on which Pierre Francois Keraudren served as the ship's physician. Both the cape and an island further north were named after him.

In Port Hedland we stayed in a cabin at the Discovery Parks site, another comfortable stay. The town is named after Swedish-born Captain Peter Hedland who, in April 1863, anchored his cutter Mystery in a natural harbour which he named Mangrove Harbour. At the time Hedland was searching for a suitable place to land stock that his vessel was carrying. The area is known as Marapikurrinya ('place of good water' or the hand-like shape of the tidal creeks) by the local Aboriginal people. (Aussie Towns). The port is the highest tonnage port in Australia and is the main fuel and container receiver in the area and a hub for the export of iron ore from the Pilbara.

There were a few birds to be seen around our cabin which was perched on a cliff overlooking the beach. After doing a supplies shop, and a bit of window shopping, in South Hedland, we headed back to Koombana Park in Port Hedland for some late afternoon photography. The park is named after the SS Koombana which vanished, with all 150 people aboard, during a tropical cyclone just off Port Hedland in 1912 - a bad year for shipping as the SS Titanic was also lost that year! Three years earlier, the SS Koombana had been the first ship to moor at the newly-opened jetty at Port Hedland. The ship derived its name from a Nyoongar name for a bay at Bunbury. The ship had had a short and chequered career before disappearing.

The park itself is not large but has a pleasant palm tree-lined walk along the clifftop, with access to the beach below, and a nice shady grassed area behind the path.

A Peaceful Dove near our cabin

A Peaceful Dove near our cabin

Rainbow Bee-eater near our cabin

Rainbow Bee-eater near our cabin

Palm trees line the path by Koombana Park

Palm trees line the path by Koombana Park

20190609_IMG_5478.jpgA paraglider flew back and forth enjoying the sunset

A paraglider flew back and forth enjoying the sunset

A bulk carrier waiting to berth

A bulk carrier waiting to berth

Black-shouldered Kite hovering

Black-shouldered Kite hovering

The last golden glow

The last golden glow

As we set out for Karijini, we passed an enormously long ore train (a common sight in the area) and also had a brief glimpse, on the outskirts of the town, of huge white pyramids of salt at the Dampier salt works. Other visitors are advised to make time for a visit to the latter as, apart from being photogenic, it is very interesting and nice to know where products that we use actually come from.

Part of one of the ore trains

Part of one of the ore trains

One of the pyramids of salt

One of the pyramids of salt

View of the salt works

View of the salt works

On our way down to Karijini, we stopped at Two Camel Creek Rest Area. This is quite a large area where 24 hour stopping is allowed, free of charge, but full facilities are not provided. For us, this was a coffee stop and a chance to stretch our legs and look at the bush, which looked pretty bare but on closer inspection had many flowers.

Flower of Corchorus laniflorus

Flower of Corchorus laniflorus

Flowers of Single Leaf Indigo (Indigofera monophylla)

Flowers of Single Leaf Indigo (Indigofera monophylla)

Flowers of Dwarf Myall (Acacia ancistrophylla)

Flowers of Dwarf Myall (Acacia ancistrophylla)

Small succulent-like plant with small white flowers

Small succulent-like plant with small white flowers

Closer view of the flowers on the small shrub

Closer view of the flowers on the small shrub

Interesting yellow wildflower, a small very open and sparse shrub

Interesting yellow wildflower, a small very open and sparse shrub

I bit further on we stopped at a viewpoint where we started to get a flavour of what was next to come in the Pilbara.

Getting into some more interesting country

Getting into some more interesting country

On our way to the viewpoint

On our way to the viewpoint

A lovely Ghost Gum near the shelter at the viewpoint

A lovely Ghost Gum near the shelter at the viewpoint

Ghost Gum below the cliff at the viewpoint

Ghost Gum below the cliff at the viewpoint

Wider view from the viewpoint

Wider view from the viewpoint

We then reached Karijini Eco Retreat where we settled into our comfortable tent. In the evening we had an excellent meal at the restaurant, luckily close to a heater as it was getting chilly. We chose our coldest night there to try out some star photography. I had no success but Judith managed to save the day with what I think is a rather nice one for our first real attempt (we had made a half-hearted attempt at Mt Ive in South Australia a couple of years ago but we did not have remote releases and under-exposed some shots, getting virtually nothing or got streaks from longer exposures. We shall try again sometime - when we find another dark sky!

The road into Karijini National Park

The road into Karijini National Park

We were spoiled for photogenic trees

We were spoiled for photogenic trees

Our Eco-tent

Our Eco-tent

Nice sleeping/living area - flap by the table leads to 'al fresco' bathroom area - very cold in the evening and morning!

Nice sleeping/living area - flap by the table leads to 'al fresco' bathroom area - very cold in the evening and morning!

Neighbouring tents were mainly empty

Neighbouring tents were mainly empty

The dining area - open all around and, in spite of heaters, we needed fleeces for comfort

The dining area - open all around and, in spite of heaters, we needed fleeces for comfort

Part of the Milky Way from outside our tent

Part of the Milky Way from outside our tent

Posted by SteveJD 15:41 Archived in Australia Tagged birds coast seashells beachcombing western_australia port_hedland eighty_mile_beach cape_keraudren Comments (1)

Mabel Downs to Broome

...via Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing and Derby

sunny 28 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

After a rather hot stay at Mabel Downs, we set off on our next leg of 437km to our overnight stop at Fitzroy Crossing. After about 150km, we reached Halls Creek. Along the way we lost the boabs and drove through some fairly uninteresting scenery but then came across vast areas covered with termite mounds. Halls Creek did not have a great deal to recommend itself to us but we took a side road to China Wall, which was fascinating. This is a vein of white quartz, rising to about 6 metres above the surrounding countryside. This is the most prominent part of the vein, which extends for many kilometres and can be seen at lower levels further along the road. The vein at China Wall is quite fractured, giving the impression of large squarish 'bricks' enhancing the 'wall-like' appearance. It is a striking sight and well worth the short detour.

China Wall descending into a river valley

China Wall descending into a river valley

Close-up view of the 'brick-shaped' quartz

Close-up view of the 'brick-shaped' quartz

Fractured surrounding countryside

Fractured surrounding countryside

View along the river away from the wall

View along the river away from the wall

Very different rock strata opposite the wall

Very different rock strata opposite the wall

Senna pendula flower (apparently a weed) growing among the rocks opposite the wall

Senna pendula flower (apparently a weed) growing among the rocks opposite the wall

A further 109km along the road, we came across the Mary Pool Rest Area. This is one of the nicest free camping sites we have come across and we wished we had been able to stay there. The rest area is actually beside the Margaret River which was named on 29 May 1879 by the explorer Alexander Forrest, during an expedition in the Kimberley area, after his sister-in-law Margaret Elvire Forrest, wife of his brother and superior, Deputy Surveyor-General John Forrest, who was later to be Premier of Western Australia. The camp site has composting toilets but no water. Swimming is inadvisable due to the possibility of crocodiles being present. Despite that, it is a well-treed spot with plenty of birdlife.

7c840350-cbe0-11e9-bace-015e96b5df68.jpgA couple of shots of the countryside between Halls Creek and Mary Pool

A couple of shots of the countryside between Halls Creek and Mary Pool

The causeway at Mary Pool has seen better days!

The causeway at Mary Pool has seen better days!

Crotalaria (aka Rattlepods)

Crotalaria (aka Rattlepods)

Australasian Darter, White-faced Heron, Intermediate Egrets and Little Black Cormorants on a sandy spit

Australasian Darter, White-faced Heron, Intermediate Egrets and Little Black Cormorants on a sandy spit

Crewcut Kookaburra!

Crewcut Kookaburra!

Diamond Dove

Diamond Dove

Our last 178km was uneventful and we were happy to find our tented accommodation at Fitzroy River Lodge (just before the township of Fitzroy Crossing). It was very comfortable and spacious with adequate shading and the food at the pub was pretty good too.

Some of the areas en route were smothered with termite mounds

Some of the areas en route were smothered with termite mounds

Agile Wallabies to greet us at the Fitzroy River Lodge (they also ventured into the accommodation areas)

Agile Wallabies to greet us at the Fitzroy River Lodge (they also ventured into the accommodation areas)

Our Hilux beside our tent.  It doesn't look flash but was very nice inside

Our Hilux beside our tent. It doesn't look flash but was very nice inside

Fitzroy Crossing takes its name from the river which was explored in 1838 by Captain Stokes, who named it after Captain Fitzroy who had been a commander aboard HMS Beagle. Later on, local Aboriginals resisted European settlement and there were several bloody battles in the area (Aussie Towns).

While we were in Fitzroy Crossing we learned that the accommodation we had booked in Derby had been cancelled as the hotel had closed! The alternative offered to us had pretty dire reviews and, when we got there, indeed looked rather ropey, so we were glad to find Spinifex Hotel where we had a very comfortable stay. To their credit, Booking.com through whom we had made our original booking, refunded the difference in price - Spinifex was more expensive but worth it. Generally we try to find cabins or similar but, close to Derby, we had been unable to find anything of that ilk, so ended up at a motel. On our way there, we stopped at another very pleasant free camping spot, Ellendale, for a coffee break - here we were relatively fly-free! Our lunch site had a huge boab but the flies were so numerous that we had our lunch inside the vehicle and only did a minimum of exploring! Naturally, before checking into our motel, we visited the famous (infamous) Prison Tree, a very impressive boab.

An Emu kept us company for a short while

An Emu kept us company for a short while

A bulbous boab at our picnic site - fly ridden unfortunately!

A bulbous boab at our picnic site - fly ridden unfortunately!

The Prison Tree just outside Derby

The Prison Tree just outside Derby

Fruits of the boab

Fruits of the boab

Colours of the Kimberley

Colours of the Kimberley

Derby was named after Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, who between 1885-1886, was the British Secretary of State for the Colonies (Aussie Towns). It doesn't have a great deal to offer but was not as bad as some people had suggested.

We had been told that Derby Waste Water Wetlands were worth a visit and we did indeed see a good variety of birdlife, both from the shaded viewing point and around the car park area. Once we had our fill of wetlands birds, we headed off to the jetty where we enjoyed a wonderful sunset, while enjoying a good meal at the Wharf Cafe.

Brown Falcon

Brown Falcon

Western Corella - should be white but it has been dusting itself in Kimberley sand!

Western Corella - should be white but it has been dusting itself in Kimberley sand!

Grey Teal splashdown

Grey Teal splashdown

Red-kneed Dotterels

Red-kneed Dotterels

View over part of the wetlands

View over part of the wetlands

Brolgas

Brolgas

Why do we always have to mess things up?!

Why do we always have to mess things up?!

bf861f10-cd95-11e9-80ac-c5329a496836.jpgTwo images of an unidentified white and black butterfly

Two images of an unidentified white and black butterfly

Black Kite (we think!)

Black Kite (we think!)

Boabs spreading out over the wetlands

Boabs spreading out over the wetlands

Sunset at the jetty

Sunset at the jetty

Fishermen at sunset

Fishermen at sunset

When we moved on, it was a fairly short drive of 224km to Broome where we stayed in a lovely Airbnb cottage/flatlet in a densely grown tropical garden. The bathroom was alfresco but private and as the weather was good, this was no problem.

Peeking through from our chalet to the Hilux

Peeking through from our chalet to the Hilux

Our al fresco dining area

Our al fresco dining area

Outside the chalet

Outside the chalet

A four-poster bed, no less, for our sleeping area

A four-poster bed, no less, for our sleeping area

On 27 November, 1883 the Governor of Western Australia, Sir Frederick Napier Broome, declared that there would be "a townsite on the North Western point of Roebuck Bay hereafter to be known and distinguished as Broome." Broome was not driven by ego. He did not name the town after himself. The Western Australian Surveyor–General, John Forrest, had named the town. However it was Broome who proclaimed it. He was, however, less than impressed with the settlement claiming that it was nothing more than three graves and a few itinerants. He didn't realise that it would attract over 300,000 tourists every winter and become one of Australia's most famous holiday resorts (Aussie Towns).

Broome had been a bustling pearling port but by the 1970s was struggling. Lord Robert Alistair McAlpine arrived and saw the potential. Over a decade, he helped transform Broome into an internationally renowned tourist town. He founded Cable Beach Club and the Pearl Coast Zoological Gardens for endangered species. He founded the Broome Preservation Society which restored many old buildings and generally promoted and supported local culture, indigenous art and the pearl industry. He was made a Freeman of Broome in 2012.

On our first full day in Broome we drove into town, then out to Cable Beach for a quick recce and then down to Gantheaume Point. This was named in 1801 by Nicholas Baudin in honour of Honore Joseph Antoine Ganteaume, a distinguished French naval officer (for some reason an 'h' was added to this chap's name). The red sandstone cliffs are very striking and we were fortunate enough to see a pair of Ospreys at their nest in the lighthouse tower. Unfortunately, we were not there at low tide, so we did not see the dinosaur footprints below the cliffs.

Broome is, at times, a quiet tropical town

Broome is, at times, a quiet tropical town

Cable Beach

Cable Beach

Osprey near the nest

Osprey near the nest

The lighthouse tower in which the ospreys nested

The lighthouse tower in which the ospreys nested

The rocks at Gantheaume Point were colourful and showed signs of significant disruption and weathering

The rocks at Gantheaume Point were colourful and showed signs of significant disruption and weathering

View over the cliffs towards Cable Beach

View over the cliffs towards Cable Beach

From the Point we headed back to Cable Beach for the sunset. We did not get right down to the beach to get the iconic camels at sunset shot but it was a lovely sight anyway. Had we been down on the beach, we would probably have been jostling with other photographers for the best position, which may have taken the edge off our enjoyment!

Bust of Lord McAlpine in honour of his contribution to Broome's development

Bust of Lord McAlpine in honour of his contribution to Broome's development

View over the beach showing camel groups

View over the beach showing camel groups

Camels on the beach at sunset

Camels on the beach at sunset

The camels return to unload their passengers

The camels return to unload their passengers

Sunset over Cable Beach

Sunset over Cable Beach

On this trip we have booked more organised trips than previously and they have all worked out well. Willie Creek Pearl Farm was no exception! We were picked up and taken out to the farm where we given a thorough guided tour of all aspects of pearls and the pearl industry, all absolutely absorbing. Outside the main building, we were enthralled by Red-headed Honeyeaters, Yellow White-eyes, Double-barred and Zebra Finches in a tree just above our heads and then on a water feature right in front of us. We were so carried away that we almost missed the next part of the tour!

The long red road to Willie Creek

The long red road to Willie Creek

Willie Creek

Willie Creek

One of our guides explaining the intricacies of pearl farming aboard our cruise boat

One of our guides explaining the intricacies of pearl farming aboard our cruise boat

The main building at Willie Creek, including the very tempting shop

The main building at Willie Creek, including the very tempting shop

Yellow White-eye

Yellow White-eye

Double-barred Finch

Double-barred Finch

Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)

Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)

Red-headed Honeyeater

Red-headed Honeyeater

Red-headed Honeyeater with Double-barred Finches

Red-headed Honeyeater with Double-barred Finches

Singing Honeyeater

Singing Honeyeater

Another worthwhile trip was to the Broome Bird Observatory but before our afternoon trip there, we had a rewarding trip to the Waste Water Treatment Plant (the things we do to find birds!) and then had a look around Broome itself and found some fascinating relics of old pearling days.

Royal Spoonbills

Royal Spoonbills

A raft of Australian Pelicans

A raft of Australian Pelicans

A restored lugger on display

A restored lugger on display

Another old lugger in need of some TLC

Another old lugger in need of some TLC

An old diving helmet

An old diving helmet

It would be remiss to leave Broome without a photo of the famous/infamous Roebuck Hotel

It would be remiss to leave Broome without a photo of the famous/infamous Roebuck Hotel

The road to the bird observatory is pretty bad and, if you don't follow their instructions, your GPS is just likely to lead you into even worse roads. We managed to navigate our way there but stopped about 4km short of the reception area at a little pull in by Roebuck Bay. We stopped for lunch and found ourselves gazing out at a rock about 100 metres from the shore - it was heaving with birds. Mainly knots of one sort or another but also herons and gulls.

Some of the birds on the rock - mainly Great Knots with some Terek's Sandpipers

Some of the birds on the rock - mainly Great Knots with some Terek's Sandpipers

Crested Tern

Crested Tern

At the slightest movement the rock erupted as birds took to the sky

At the slightest movement the rock erupted as birds took to the sky

Steve sitting among the strange shapes wrought by sea, wind and weather

Steve sitting among the strange shapes wrought by sea, wind and weather

Beautiful and strange shapes caused, mainly, by the sea eddying around the sandstobe

Beautiful and strange shapes caused, mainly, by the sea eddying around the sandstobe

Intermediate Egret (with Eastern Reef Egret in cave)

Intermediate Egret (with Eastern Reef Egret in cave)

Intermediate Egret with an itch!

Intermediate Egret with an itch!

Having checked in for our tour, we had time to visit the viewing platform where a beautiful Brahminy Kite sailed back and forth in front of us. On the tour, led by Merren, we saw a good variety of birds but Yellow Chats were conspicuous by their absence! These are one of the star attractions but I think I'll settle for my memory of the knots wheeling in huge flocks off the rock and round and around before settling again, quite magnificent.

Brahminy Kite

Brahminy Kite

Black-shouldered Kite seen on our tour

Black-shouldered Kite seen on our tour

Our tour vehicle late afternoon, in search of Yellow Chats

Our tour vehicle late afternoon, in search of Yellow Chats

Posted by SteveJD 04:46 Archived in Australia Tagged birds coast camels broome derby fitzroy_crossing halls_creek boabs great_north_highway china_wall mary_pool bird_observatory Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]