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Carnarvon to Monkey Mia

...via Hamelin Pool

sunny 23 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

Our first port of call in Carnarvon was the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum. It may come as a surprise to some that this isolated town played an important part in the United States manned moon missions. So much so that, in 2013, Buzz Aldrin came over to open Phase One of the museum's development. Australian-born astronaut, Andy Thomas, did the honours for Phase Two in 2014 and Phase Three was opened in 2016 by Gene Cernan, the last man on the moon - at the time of writing. The Tracking Station, which forms the basis of the museum, was built in 1964 to support Gemini, Apollo and Skylab missions and, for 11 years, it was the last station to communicate with astronauts before leaving earth's orbit and the last voice they heard as they headed for splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. (Acknowledgements to the Carnarvon & Coral Bay Destination Guide for this and other information about the area.

The huge satellite dish and the giant Redstone rocket are the first things one sees, on approaching the tracking station. Inside there is an almost overwhelming display of items connected with the history of the station including full scale replicas of Gemini and Apollo command modules. In the latter you can sit inside in 'launch' position and hear the sound of the rocket - it's worth doing for the atmosphere. The Gemini is decidedly less roomy but also accessible. The museum is expanding and it is easy to while away at least a couple of hours and still not see everything - excellent value.

The Redstone rocket near the entrance

The Redstone rocket near the entrance

The main satellite dish

The main satellite dish

There's always one!

There's always one!

Steve and Judith inside the replica Apollo command module

Steve and Judith inside the replica Apollo command module

Some rooms were crammed with machinery which is all beyond me but very interesting

Some rooms were crammed with machinery which is all beyond me but very interesting

7f690720-1a8a-11ea-b9e2-eb6db621e809.jpgTwo views of Steve in the Gemini replica

Two views of Steve in the Gemini replica

By the time we had finished there, it was time for lunch and we made our way to the Small Boat Harbour, where we had an excellent meal of fish & chips at the Harbourside Cafe.

Harbourside Cafe

Harbourside Cafe

Steve inside the cafe

Steve inside the cafe

In the afternoon we visited the One Mile Jetty. It is currently closed for safety reasons but we found quite a bit of birdlife there while walking on the mangrove boardwalk. There is also an interpretive centre providing details of the jetty's history. The jetty is, or was, the longest in Western Australia and at one time had a tramway which transported people and goods. The goods have included, from the late 19th century until the 1950s, wool, sandalwood, livestock, pearl shell and people.

One Mile Jetty viewed from mangrove boardwalk

One Mile Jetty viewed from mangrove boardwalk

Black Kite hunting over the mangroves

Black Kite hunting over the mangroves

Singing Honeyeater by the mangrove boardwalk

Singing Honeyeater by the mangrove boardwalk

A relic from bygone days at the jetty

A relic from bygone days at the jetty

We then planned on driving out to Bibbawarra Bore but after driving several kilometres along a dusty track, we found a "Road Closed" sign! Our next stop was Chinaman's Pool, a nice treed area by the Gascoyne River. Here there was a pleasant walk and plenty of birds but also swarms of mosquitoes! Our stay was short but productive! On the way back to our cabin, we called at a pharmacy where we asked after something for itch relief (the mossies had been really nasty) and the pharmacist recommended a haemorrhoid cream which worked a treat!

Australasian Pipit

Australasian Pipit

Little Corellas

Little Corellas

White-breasted Woodswallow

White-breasted Woodswallow

Meadow Argus butterfly

Meadow Argus butterfly

Having anointed ourselves, we returned to the Small Boat Harbour where we saw more birds and a lovely sunset to see us off. There is a great deal to see and do in and around Carnarvon so, if you can spare more than the two nights we managed, you will be busy.

Fishing boat returning to harbour

Fishing boat returning to harbour

Wader (possibly a Redshank) at sunset

Wader (possibly a Redshank) at sunset

Panoramic view over the inlet at sunset

Panoramic view over the inlet at sunset

Sunset over Carnarvon Beach Resort, across the inlet

Sunset over Carnarvon Beach Resort, across the inlet

A flight of ducks over the inlet at sunset

A flight of ducks over the inlet at sunset

The following day we headed off on our drive of about 380km to Monkey Mia. Most of the drive was pretty uninteresting but after we turned off towards Denham, we found Hamelin Pool. The caravan park and amenities are rather shabby, to be kind, but the short walk to the pool and out on the boardwalk to see the stromatolites is well worthwhile. The low tide area is covered with living organisms known as microbial mats which sometimes trap grit and become stone, at which stage they become microbialites. When these microbialites grow one on the other and the layers form a small tower, they are called stromatolites - living stone! The are not the prettiest things you will see but they are fascinating.

A dried out and broken stromatolite (perhaps an ex-stromatolite?)

A dried out and broken stromatolite (perhaps an ex-stromatolite?)

Stromatolites growing under water

Stromatolites growing under water

The boardwalk over the pool gives an excellent view of stromatolites and other marine creatures

The boardwalk over the pool gives an excellent view of stromatolites and other marine creatures

A ring of stromatolites out of water

A ring of stromatolites out of water

Welcome Swallows resting on a stromatolite

Welcome Swallows resting on a stromatolite

Clearly it was nesting season for these Welcome Swallows - their nests were tucked under the boardwalk - hopefully above high tide!

Clearly it was nesting season for these Welcome Swallows - their nests were tucked under the boardwalk - hopefully above high tide!

Seaweed seen from the boardwalk

Seaweed seen from the boardwalk

Back in the car park, an Australian Hobby posed nicely for us.

large_20190621_IMG_5785.jpgTwo shots of our friendly Australian Hobby

Two shots of our friendly Australian Hobby

Not far beyond Hamelin Pool, we pulled in to Shell Beach where the shells are 7-10 metres deep over a stretch of some 60km! The shells are mainly a species of cockle and these have formed a limestone rock known as coquina. Before Shark Bay became a World Heritage Site, this material was mined and used for building in Denham.

View down to Shell Beach

View down to Shell Beach

Panorama of part of Shell Beach

Panorama of part of Shell Beach

Stay away - it gets really crowded!

Stay away - it gets really crowded!

At Denham, an attractive little coastal town, we turned off towards Monkey Mia and drove through some good bushland. Close to the resort we stopped for a group of Emus and, a little further on, an Echidna crossed the road, paying little attention to us.

Emu by the roadside

Emu by the roadside

A closer view of one of the emus

A closer view of one of the emus

The Echidna on the road

The Echidna on the road

Echidna safely across and into the sand

Echidna safely across and into the sand

The RAC/Big 4 resort is massive and the staff are friendly and helpful. We paid extra to be upgraded to a sea-facing villa which was well worthwhile and, shortly after arriving, we saw dolphins swimming close to the beach, from our verandah.

View from our villa

View from our villa

Inside the villa - plenty of room

Inside the villa - plenty of room

Sunset from our villa

Sunset from our villa

The cabin was very roomy and comfortable and was equipped with no stove but at least a microwave. We were unable to access wifi, so had to talk to one another!

The following morning we went along the beach to see the dolphin feeding and were delighted to see a couple of females come in with calves. It was a bit breezy so no nice clear water for good photographs unfortunately.

People waiting for the dolphins

People waiting for the dolphins

The first one in to be fed

The first one in to be fed

A beautiful creature

A beautiful creature

Smiling for the camera!

Smiling for the camera!

Steve sitting in the shade on our verandah while Judith takes a few more photos

Steve sitting in the shade on our verandah while Judith takes a few more photos

A Silver Gull came onto the verandah hoping, in vain, for a handout

A Silver Gull came onto the verandah hoping, in vain, for a handout

View along the beach to the dolphin feeding area

View along the beach to the dolphin feeding area

Colourful kayaks lined up waiting for an outing

Colourful kayaks lined up waiting for an outing

Across the road from the resort is a bush walk area. We picked up a map from the Dolphin Centre, with the intention of heading for a bird hide. The paths that led to the hide were blocked off and it turned out the staff in the Dolphin Centre were unaware of the closures! Nonetheless, we wound our way through the dune bushland, seeing quite a few birds both in the bush and along the coastal strip, as well as a family of kangaroos.

Panoramic view from top of dune on bushwalk

Panoramic view from top of dune on bushwalk

View over the resort from the bushwalk

View over the resort from the bushwalk

Western Grey Kangaroo and joey in the dunes

Western Grey Kangaroo and joey in the dunes

Torresian Crow on the beach

Torresian Crow on the beach

Australian Pelicans on a sandspit

Australian Pelicans on a sandspit

Australian Pied Oystercatchers on the beach

Australian Pied Oystercatchers on the beach

Posted by SteveJD 08:42 Archived in Australia Tagged animals birds boats sunset australia museum dolphin western_australia monkey_mia mammals carnarvon echidna hamelin_pool stromatolites space_technology Comments (0)

Karijini National Park to Karratha

...and some cold nights!

sunny 24 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Travels with Jet Set in Europe & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

Karijini National Park (formerly Hamersley Range National Park) is in the Hamersley Ranges of the Pilbara. Karijini means "hilly place" in the local Banyjima tongue. The region is rich in iron ore and consequently there are several large mining operations and the soil is a rich red - or **&&!?? red when the dust creeps through every gap of the vehicle, coating you and your clothes in a red film! The ranges and a gorge were named by explorer F.T. Gregory, after his friend Edward Hamersley, an early settler who had settled very successfully in Perth. The main geological features are banded ironstone formation, dolomite and shale. These have been cut through by rivers which have created spectacular gorges which reveal the layered - and folded - rocks.

On our first full day we visited the sights/sites (either is applicable in this case!) closest to the Eco-Resort, Joffre Falls, Junction and Oxer Lookouts and, a little further away Dales Gorge. Joffre Falls were almost dry but the gorge was stunning with lovely views across the flat landscape to the Eco-Retreat where we stayed. I haven't been able to find the origin of the name but assume that the falls were named after the French General Joseph Joffre who commanded the French forces in WWI and would undoubtedly have been known to Australian soldiers.

Our chariot awaits

Our chariot awaits

large_f31d50f0-ff1d-11e9-afc1-59f8e7b83bbf.jpgTwo viws of Joffre Falls

Two viws of Joffre Falls

The gorge below the falls

The gorge below the falls

People clambering out of, or through, the gorge

People clambering out of, or through, the gorge

View from the top of the falls to the Eco-Retreat

View from the top of the falls to the Eco-Retreat

Bush at the top of the falls

Bush at the top of the falls

Junction Lookout and Oxer Gorge are a short drive away (there are some fabulous walks through the gorges but they would have taken a lot more time - and fitness! - than we had). As the name 'Junction' suggests, these lookouts are situated where the Weano, Hancock and Red Gorges meet, giving an amazing panorama of gorges and cliffs, many of which are covered in spinifex grass and dotted with eucalypts. At Junction Lookout, there is a memorial to Jim Regan who lost his life in flash floods while attempting to rescue a visitor. If you do go into gorges, do remember to be aware of the conditions and think of those who may have to try to rescue you.

Panorama across the spinifex strewn junction

Panorama across the spinifex strewn junction

A closer view of spinifex with eucalypts dotted through

A closer view of spinifex with eucalypts dotted through

View down the gorges

View down the gorges

The memorial to Jim Regan

The memorial to Jim Regan

We had lunch in the Weano Gorge car park and were heading for Hancock Gorge, when a ranger came dashing by. A storm had been forecast and he was rushing to get people out of the gorge before the storm struck. As the storm was imminent, we also abandoned plans to go to Weano Gorge and drove to the other side of the park, to Dales Gorge. The camping ground here is, I think, the only other accommodation site in the park. We parked at the car park for Fortescue Falls and walked down the steps to this pretty set of falls. On our way across the park, we had stopped at the Visitor Centre where a young, and very helpful, Aboriginal woman at the desk had recommended a visit to Fern Pool. On paper this was a more testing walk but we were pleased to negotiate this and find a lovely pool fed by more small waterfalls. There were a couple of hardy souls swimming in the pool - at the bottom of the gorge, the temperature drops and the water must have been icy! We drove back to camp, intending to take some late afternoon photos at Knox Gorge but we found that the road was still closed because of the storm.

Looking back at the stormy weather we escaped from

Looking back at the stormy weather we escaped from

View into Dales Gorge from the steps to the falls

View into Dales Gorge from the steps to the falls

Fortescue Falls from the steps

Fortescue Falls from the steps

Judith on her way down to the falls

Judith on her way down to the falls

Banded ironstone formation with spinifex

Banded ironstone formation with spinifex

Fortescue - there always has to be someone wearing red!

Fortescue - there always has to be someone wearing red!

Pool above Fortescue Falls

Pool above Fortescue Falls

The bands in the rock are much narrower in some places

The bands in the rock are much narrower in some places

Fern Pool with brave folk under the falls

Fern Pool with brave folk under the falls

The waterfalls at Fern Pool

The waterfalls at Fern Pool

Looking up, we could see that the stom had just about passed by

Looking up, we could see that the stom had just about passed by

A solitary fold in banded ironstone

A solitary fold in banded ironstone

On our last day, a trip into Tom Price (WA's highest town at 747 metres above sea level) was necessary as we needed to refuel, ready for departure the next day. On the way we stopped at Mt Bruce (Western Australia's second highest mountain) and clambered up to the lookout (well short of the summit!), from which we could see Marandoo mine site in the distance. A little further on, we came to a sign to RIP Lookout and found an unusual site for people to pay tribute to friends who had died. We dropped into the Visitor Centre at Tom Price to check out the condition of Railway Road as we had hoped to use that to get to Karratha. We were told that for the most part it was "OK" but that the last stretch was in very poor condition and we were recommended to avoid it. We had expected Tom Price to be a rough and ready town, like some other mining towns we have been to in our travels. However, it was quite pleasant and, in hindsight, we would probably have been better staying in a motel here than at the Eco-Retreat, although the latter did provide some lovely night sky viewing which Tom Price could not have come near!

View to Marandoo mine site

View to Marandoo mine site

Part of one of the many, very long, ore trains encountered in the Pilbara

Part of one of the many, very long, ore trains encountered in the Pilbara

Typical terrain around Mt Bruce

Typical terrain around Mt Bruce

large_e7d44550-ff22-11e9-965f-dd42d7e043a0.jpgTwo views on RIP Lookout

Two views on RIP Lookout

From Tom Price we drove to Hamersley Gorge. This is not as deep as some of the other gorges we had seen but the gorge walls were spectacular in colour and form with a lovely pool at the bottom. The walk down into the gorge was again relatively challenging for us in parts and we were glad to have our walking poles with us, for balance if nothing else!

View to the top of the gorge from the start of the walk down

View to the top of the gorge from the start of the walk down

Termite mound, grasses and trees at the start of the walk

Termite mound, grasses and trees at the start of the walk

First clear sight of the incredible folding visible in the rock formations

First clear sight of the incredible folding visible in the rock formations

A closer view of the folds

A closer view of the folds

Lovely tree-fringed pool at the bottom of the gorge

Lovely tree-fringed pool at the bottom of the gorge

The pool squeezes through as the gorge walls narrow

The pool squeezes through as the gorge walls narrow

"Unfolded" bands of rock form a natural slide into the pool

"Unfolded" bands of rock form a natural slide into the pool

Rich colours in the folded banded ironstone

Rich colours in the folded banded ironstone

Steve still needing his net, although flies not quite as bad as in the Red Centre

Steve still needing his net, although flies not quite as bad as in the Red Centre

On the way back to camp, we saw more birds than we had seen in our entire stay. We saw surprisingly little wildlife during our stay and put it down to the dry weather conditions which tend to make animals scatter far and wide in search of food and water. I would love to be able to return in Spring when it must be fabulous with all the wildflowers.

Very red terrain on the way back to camp

Very red terrain on the way back to camp

A tangle of spinifex

A tangle of spinifex

A small shrub gave splashes of orange through the bush

A small shrub gave splashes of orange through the bush

Mulla Mulla flowering along the roadside

Mulla Mulla flowering along the roadside

A Mulla Mulla flowerhead

A Mulla Mulla flowerhead

Our last night in the restaurant in Karijini

Our last night in the restaurant in Karijini

As noted above, instead of taking a more direct route to Karratha, we had to retrace our steps and go via Port Hedland, so a relatively long driving day. We finally reached Karratha where we stayed in a, reasonably priced, 'de luxe' studio at Discovery Parks. This was lovely accommodation, even having our own washing machine rather than the usual communal, and often heavily used, machines in other places.

Pilbara landscape on our way to Karratha

Pilbara landscape on our way to Karratha

One of the larger road trains we met with

One of the larger road trains we met with

Posted by SteveJD 15:30 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls trees rocks western_australia gorges grasses karijini_national_park spinifex Comments (0)

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)

Katherine to Kununurra

...and we leave the NT to return to our second home of WA

sunny 33 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

I omitted to give any information about Katherine in the last blog, so here goes - the town probably should be called Catherine. As mentioned in earlier blogs, "...John McDouall Stuart was backed by James Chambers and named a string of features after him or his family. On his third expedition, in 1862, Stuart came across the river which he called Katherine and said that he had named it after Chambers' second daughter. However, the daughter was named Catherine but her mother was Katherine. The question is, did Stuart make a mistake with the person or the name?" (Aussie Towns, edited)

There were hot springs a short walk from our cabin

There were hot springs a short walk from our cabin

Today Katherine is a very pleasant medium-sized town with all the amenities one would hope to find, luckily including computer shops as our technology woes continued. My mouse died, so we had to spend some time finding a replacement. Having done this we still had enough time to revisit Edith Falls. It really is a lovely area but again we could not take full advantage as I was still feeling a bit unwell, although considerably improved.

Swimmers in the pool below Edith Falls

Swimmers in the pool below Edith Falls

Edith River fringed by dense vegetation

Edith River fringed by dense vegetation

Flower of the Kapok tree

Flower of the Kapok tree

A skink of the ctenotus species, I think

A skink of the ctenotus species, I think

Flower bud of the Rosella - an introduced species

Flower bud of the Rosella - an introduced species

Edith Falls (Leliyn in the Jawoyn Aboriginal language) are on the Edith River which was named, in 1871, by W. McMinn during the construction of the Overland Telegraph, in honour of Lady Edith Christian Fergusson, the wife of the South Australian governor, Sir James Fergusson. In the last blog, I assumed that Edith Falls were on the Katherine, so sorry for providing duff information!

The following day we had booked a dinner cruise in Katherine Gorge and in the late afternoon we drove to the boarding area. Our boat was comfortable with a good mix of people on board and a good guide who pointed out items of interest as we cruised along. The first gorge then came to an end and we had to disembark and walk through to another gorge where a different boat and guide awaited us. On this part of the journey, we saw the nests of Fairy Martins and also some Aboriginal paintings on a cliff face. This I found surprising as they seemed quite exposed and yet retained their colour. The sun began to duck behind the gorge cliffs and we had some beautiful light coming through gaps. We returned to our first boat which was now set up for dinner and we shared a table with a Ranger (working on crocodile surveys) and his partner. Food and company were excellent and we had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and evening.

Black Flying Fox

Black Flying Fox

Cruising into the gorges

Cruising into the gorges

Many of the gorge walls were covered in vegetation, from ferns to trees

Many of the gorge walls were covered in vegetation, from ferns to trees

A Freshwater Crocodile seen from the boat

A Freshwater Crocodile seen from the boat

Trap used to capture the occasional Saltwater Crocodile which may come in during high waters

Trap used to capture the occasional Saltwater Crocodile which may come in during high waters

An Australiasian Darter - drying its wings or showing how big its catch was?!

An Australiasian Darter - drying its wings or showing how big its catch was?!

Heading into our mooring point at the end of the first gorge

Heading into our mooring point at the end of the first gorge

Cliff faces with sparser vegetation in the second gorge

Cliff faces with sparser vegetation in the second gorge

A palm reaching high to catch the light

A palm reaching high to catch the light

Fairy Martin nests

Fairy Martin nests

Ferns growing quite densely on one wall

Ferns growing quite densely on one wall

Gorge reflections

Gorge reflections

The gannets descend!

The gannets descend!

This is the life!

This is the life!

This brought our stay in Katherine to an end and we set off on the Victoria Highway (now back on the Savannah Way, part of which we traversed on our last trip) - a 510km trip to Kununurra, including side trips. The countryside was quite varied with more undulations than we had been used to and different vegetation.

A bit of elevation was nice after hundreds of miles of very flat landscape

A bit of elevation was nice after hundreds of miles of very flat landscape

And the road just ran on westwards

And the road just ran on westwards

Nice to see a few more trees with green leaves!

Nice to see a few more trees with green leaves!

We stopped for a light lunch at the Victoria Roadhouse, where a young French girl from the Loire Valley served us - we enjoy meeting and chatting with these young folk working their way through Australia.

Little Corella outside the roadhouse (one of many!)

Little Corella outside the roadhouse (one of many!)

A little further on we passed through Timber Creek and turned off to a viewpoint. Here we found not only sweeping views over the Victoria River and the cliffs in the area but a memorial to early pastoralists, in particular the Durack family and, a little further up this side road, a memorial to 'The Nackeroos'. We had never heard of this unit but, as it happens, I had just come across mention of them in Book 9 of The Frontier series by Peter Watt (highly recommended). The Nackeroos was a nickname for the 2/1st North Australia Observer Unit which was a light horse mounted unit whose task was to provide early warning of any Japanese incursions (in the book, they rescued an American airman lost in the bush after crashing his plane).

On the way up to the viewpoint

On the way up to the viewpoint

An interesting mix of trees below the escarpment

An interesting mix of trees below the escarpment

Replica Bronco Panel as a memorial to the early pastoralists

Replica Bronco Panel as a memorial to the early pastoralists

Memorial to the 'Nackeroos'

Memorial to the 'Nackeroos'

Poem by a soldier who apparently served with the Nackeroos (name unknown)

Poem by a soldier who apparently served with the Nackeroos (name unknown)

20190525_IMG_5115.jpgViews from the 'Nackeroos' memorial to the Victoria River and over the township of Timber Creek

Views from the 'Nackeroos' memorial to the Victoria River and over the township of Timber Creek

The Victoria River owes its name to the first European to explore it in 1839. He was Captain J.C. Wickham and he reached the mouth of the river in the HMS Beagle and duly named the river after his sovereign, Queen Victoria (Aussietowns; edited).

As we neared the WA border, we started to see boabs which are trees that we are familiar with through their Africans cousins, baobabs. They are wonderful trees which take on a variety of, mostly rotund, appearances and provide homes and sustenance to birds and animals, including humans!

A solitary boab - advance guard to the many!

A solitary boab - advance guard to the many!

More boabs

More boabs

Fruit of the boab nearly 20cm long

Fruit of the boab nearly 20cm long

On crossing the WA border we had to go through quarantine and were a bit disgruntled to have a sealed jar of honey (a commercial brand from Queensland) confiscated. We were particularly affronted to find exactly the same honey on sale in Kununurra!

Kununurra is the eastern entrance to the Kimberley region (3,337km from Perth via Broome). The town takes its name from the Miriwoong Aboriginal word meaning 'big water' - accurate but probably not an 'original' aboriginal name for the place but co-opted after Lake Argyle was created (various sources). In Kununurra, we found Ivanhoe Village Caravan Park where we had another very comfortable cabin for our accommodation.

Our cabin and Hilux behind boab in the grounds (Steve looking for dragon!)

Our cabin and Hilux behind boab in the grounds (Steve looking for dragon!)

Dragon - not sure which type

Dragon - not sure which type

After a restful night, we were ready for an early morning pick up for Argyle Boat Tours to drive us out to Lake Argyle. We stopped at the Argyle Homestead Museum where the main feature is the Durack homestead which was rescued from the rising waters of Lake Argyle. It was built in 1895 as the home of the pioneering Durack family but in 1969 it was proposed that their building should be rescued, before Lake Argyle filled, and preserved for posterity. The homestead was dismantled and each brick was coded. The bricks were put into store but by the time the reconstruction was to take place, it was found that many of the codes had been affected by some very wet weather and by the time the building was completed, it was estimated to be around 85% true to the original.

Great Bowerbird's bower - a bit less colourful than some

Great Bowerbird's bower - a bit less colourful than some

The Durack Homestead

The Durack Homestead

Frangipani flower

Frangipani flower

Argyle Homestead Museum sign

Argyle Homestead Museum sign

We had a rest stop at the lovely Argyle Resort with its superbly positioned infinity pool before boarding our boat for a cruise on the lake.

View over Lake Argyle from Argyle Village

View over Lake Argyle from Argyle Village

Infinity pool at Argyle Village

Infinity pool at Argyle Village

Once aboard, we were regaled with stories of the past and had much information provided about the geology of the area and the creatures that inhabit the waters, islands and surrounds of the lake. We stopped at a 'beach' around midday, giving time for a swim before a barbecued fish lunch - delicious!

Dam wall and part of the hydro-electricity plant

Dam wall and part of the hydro-electricity plant

Map of the lake - it is huge and our cruise covered only an area in the top left corner!

Map of the lake - it is huge and our cruise covered only an area in the top left corner!

Two immature White-bellied Sea-eagles

Two immature White-bellied Sea-eagles

Typical view along the lake's edge

Typical view along the lake's edge

Some of the interesting geology on view around the lake

Some of the interesting geology on view around the lake

Dead trees pose a navigation hazard as many are submerged but almost fossilised

Dead trees pose a navigation hazard as many are submerged but almost fossilised

Short-eared Rock Wallaby

Short-eared Rock Wallaby

20190526_IMG_5135.jpgTwo views of a Jabiru on its nest on an island

Two views of a Jabiru on its nest on an island

Where we beached for lunch - the shore was smothered with snail shells and small chunks of ochre

Where we beached for lunch - the shore was smothered with snail shells and small chunks of ochre

A quick swim before BBQ fish lunch

A quick swim before BBQ fish lunch

Many of the people aboard returned by coach but we had booked to travel with Triple J Tours on the Ord River. The coach dropped us off below the dam wall where we boarded our boat with its most informative and entertaining guide/skipper, Grant. About mid-afternoon, we pulled in to a sheltered area and were surprised to find benches and tables all under sails so that we could enjoy Grant's scones and tea without getting sunburned. We enjoyed seeing the sunset from the boat and eventually made our home in the twilight hours - two very happy bunnies!

Our coach crossing the dam wall - from the Ord River cruise boat

Our coach crossing the dam wall - from the Ord River cruise boat

Part of the hydro-electricity plant

Part of the hydro-electricity plant

Freshwater Crocodile

Freshwater Crocodile

Sun shafting through smoke

Sun shafting through smoke

Baby Freshwater Crocodile - about 45cm long

Baby Freshwater Crocodile - about 45cm long

Coot family

Coot family

Short-eared Rock Wallaby in cave

Short-eared Rock Wallaby in cave

The angle of this formation shows the tilting that took place aeons ago

The angle of this formation shows the tilting that took place aeons ago

From our afternoon tea spot, we could see this rock shaped like a Digger

From our afternoon tea spot, we could see this rock shaped like a Digger

Our skipper making sure our afternoon tea area was clear

Our skipper making sure our afternoon tea area was clear

Steve bending to board the boat after tea

Steve bending to board the boat after tea

Grant - our skipper and guide

Grant - our skipper and guide

Colony of Black Flying Foxes

Colony of Black Flying Foxes

Reflections in the river

Reflections in the river

More reflections

More reflections

Sunset over the Ord River

Sunset over the Ord River

Elephant Rock near Kununurra

Elephant Rock near Kununurra

Posted by SteveJD 08:00 Archived in Australia Tagged western_australia memorials katherine northern_territory boabs timber_creek nackeroos Comments (0)

We are off again

England to WA and on to SA

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

Before leaving Brexit-mad England, we had another great trip with the East Suffolk National Trust Association to Sissinghurst Castle and Garden in Kent. Typically, the weather was not marvellous but we were able to enjoy a ramble through the estate, finding primroses and bluebells in flower and, when the rain let up again, we explored the more formal gardens. The famous White Garden was lovely although of course not up to the full white blooming state that we have seen in the past in the summer. Others areas open onto different vistas and wild snake-head fritillaries looked just as beautifully strange growing among daffodils and tulips as in a wildflower meadow. As we are now in Australia, the photos we can access are low quality and few but, take our word for it that if you are in Kent, this is a 'must visit'.

Tunnel-like view along a walk around the estate

Tunnel-like view along a walk around the estate

Primroses and bluebells on small embankment

Primroses and bluebells on small embankment

A solitary snake's head fritillary

A solitary snake's head fritillary

This time we chose to fly with Cathay Pacific and had one of our best travel experiences to date. Their premium economy seats are very comfortable and although the food was 'airline' food, it was very tasty and enjoyable. Although we want to enjoy our time in Australia, we are actually looking forward to the return flight!

In our short stay in Perth, we caught up with our old friend Len and then stayed with Sue, the wife of Judith's former employer. Mac, unfortunately had to be moved to a care home where we visited him and found him in quite good spirits. Thus far, our cameras, certainly mine, have barely seen daylight but this will soon be remedied.

We had a good flight to Adelaide with Virgin and, after a short panic, found our hire car and made our way to West Beach Parks Resort where we have a lovely roomy cabin - not quite as good as the beachside villa that we had here last year but we were a bit late booking and they had sold out. On our first morning in SA, we had a very tasty breakfast at Deep Blue Cafe, Moana, a few km south of here, with a friend of Judith's from England who now lives here with her partner.

Deep Blue Cafe, Moana SA

Deep Blue Cafe, Moana SA


Vanessa and Judith after a lovely breakfast

Vanessa and Judith after a lovely breakfast

Last time we were in Adelaide we had run out of time to see the old Adelaide Gaol and the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Both were well worth the visit although the old gaol wasn't quite as interesting as the old (transported) convict establishments we saw last time around.

Entrance to Adelaide Gaol

Entrance to Adelaide Gaol

One of the wings in the gaol

One of the wings in the gaol

Inside the 'new' cell block (late 1800s)

Inside the 'new' cell block (late 1800s)

The Hanging Tower and the gap between walls where some prisoners were buried after execution or dying in prison

The Hanging Tower and the gap between walls where some prisoners were buried after execution or dying in prison

The Botanic Gardens were interesting and very well laid out with plenty of shade and a number of water areas. Although our bird watching thus far has been quite sparse compared with our last visit, we have seen a few as we have moved around Adelaide.

Probably one of the birds seen most through Australia, a Peewee or Magpie-lark

Probably one of the birds seen most through Australia, a Peewee or Magpie-lark

Australian White Ibis - especially for Terry!

Australian White Ibis - especially for Terry!

Victoriana water lily in flower

Victoriana water lily in flower

Blue water lily in the lily house

Blue water lily in the lily house

Wood Duck preening

Wood Duck preening

Little Pied Cormorant looking the wrong way for food!

Little Pied Cormorant looking the wrong way for food!

Australian Grebe

Australian Grebe

Blue Skimmer Dragonfly

Blue Skimmer Dragonfly

Cycad fruit

Cycad fruit

Some of the masses of flower/seed bunches on Koelreuteria tree

Some of the masses of flower/seed bunches on Koelreuteria tree

Adelaide really is a lovely city and it would have been great to have more time to relax and visit the wineries and many other attractions at leisure but, unfortunately, we have a limited time - and budget! We stayed again at West Beach Shores Resort but on this occasion the lovely villa we had before had already been booked so we had a holiday cabin. This was very comfortable and roomy so we would again have no hesitation in recommending this as a great place to stay.

Pelicans on a water pipe near the resort

Pelicans on a water pipe near the resort

Sunset over the Gulf of St Vincent from the resort

Sunset over the Gulf of St Vincent from the resort

Since internet connections have been erratic, at best, since leaving Adelaide, I will try to get this one posted today (in Marree). We have just had a great flight over Lake Eyre but more of that later. The following is just some background for those interested in why we are travelling where we are - following in the footsteps of early explorers. At various stages of this blog, I shall refer to 'discoveries' and these references are to discovery by Europeans, most if not all, already being familiar to the various Aboriginal groups. Once again we shall be travelling in the footsteps (approximately) of some of Australia's early explorers. Last time our route covered ground explored by Edward Eyre, Thomas Mitchell and, of course, Burke & Wills but also touched on many other explorers' discoveries, not least Charles Sturt who discovered and named Lake Alexandrina which we saw behind the Coorong when we visited the area on the last trip. The foremost explorer on our route this time is John McDouall Stuart. On our last trip, when we were in Glen Innes, NSW, I picked up a copy of "Great Australian Explorers" by Marcia McEwan and I have used this since then as my main source, backed up, of course by Wikipedia and the excellent Aussie Towns website. In the Flinders Ikara Ranges we shall be covering ground that both Edward Eyre and Stuart covered in their explorations. In 1839, exploration had only extended about 120km north of Adelaide and Eyre, with his overseer, John Baxter, and their party pushed into the Flinders Ranges before turning back and followed the Murray before crossing back to Adelaide.

From Adelaide, we head north to the Flinders Ranges, partly as we loved the area when we visited last year but also as it is a good waypoint on the way to Marree from where we cross the Oodnadatta Track and William Creek Track to Coober Pedy and points north.

Posted by SteveJD 22:20 Archived in Australia Tagged england flights western_australia perth adelaide kent south_australia cathay_pacific sissinghurst Comments (2)

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