A Travellerspoint blog

Into Iron Ore country

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We have been told by other travellers that Nanutarra Roadhouse is the second most expensive roadhouse in WA. Unleaded petrol was $1.56 per litre which is a lot less than I expected, but food and drink in the roadhouse was a bit on the pricey side. However at $20 a night for a powered caravan site, it was well worth it.

Off to Tom Price today which is one of the major iron ore mining towns in the Pilbara. It is a 353 Kilometre journey today and there is nothing until we reach Paraburdoo which is still 274 kilometres away. Once we head east the changes in the landscape are amazing. We are coming into the western parts of the Hamersley Range where a lot of WA’s mineral wealth is to be found, but it is an arid landscape despite the amount of flora. We eventually pull into Paraburdoo for some lunch before continuing onto Tom Price. The reason for staying at Tom Price is that it is a good base for exploring the western portions of Karijini National Park. However, the gravel roads to this part of the park are so rough we have to turn back approx 10 Kilometres short of our destination which is a major disappointment. We head over to Dales Gorge which is at the eastern end of the park where we climbed into the gorge which is on average 100 metres deep, and swim in the crystal clear pools which more than makes up for the earlier disappointment.

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There is more to this part of the park to explore and leave this for our next leg in the journey as it’s closer. We travel almost 100 Km back to Tom Price.

For an area so heavily promoted by the State Government as a major tourist destination, it is disappointing to see a lack of spending in basic infrastructure such as bitumising roads to improve accessibility. Not everyone has access to a 4WD.

Posted by PhilAndDen 08:43 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Onto the Pilbara

Overnighting on the highway

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We are heading inland to the Pilbara mining town of Tom Price but because of the distance involved are having an overnight stay at Nanutarra Roadhouse, which is where the North West Coastal Hwy crosses the Ashburton River. We are doing this to break up the journey as it’s 634 Kilometres from Exmouth to Tom Price which is a bit far for us pulling a van at 90 Km/h.

Posted by PhilAndDen 07:24 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Exmouth beckons

Paradise in the North West

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It’s time we moved on again and this time it’s to the northern end of Ningaloo Reef at Exmouth. Exmouth has a bit of history to it having only been a town since 1967, but it is best known for bearing the brunt of Cyclone Vance in 1999 where the strongest wind gust has been recorded.(267 Km/h). You can read more about it here .

Exmouth has no wet or dry season – it’s lovely and sunny every day of the year unless a cyclone decides to drop some rain. There is a naval base just north of town and is home to the VLF transmitting station which is used to communicate to submarines around the world – being a radio enthusiast (and ham radio operator) this was a must see for me.

Along the spine of the North West Cape is the Cape Range National Park. We walked along the Yardie Creek Gorge and later in the day went swimming and snorkeling in the pristine waters shielded by the Ningaloo Reef. We also walked into the Mandu Mandu Gorge which was quite breathtaking. We know that as we head further north there will be more gorges to look at so this will give us a taste of things to come.

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We spent a couple of evenings watching the sun set from the Vlamingh Lighthouse lookout – simply stunning. The best part of all was that we could see humpback whales swimming and frolicking in the waters off the cape. What a wonderful way to finish a day! We wish we could spend another day here but are grateful for the time we’ve had here. If you ever find yourself in the North West of WA Exmouth is a place worth checking out.

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Posted by PhilAndDen 07:17 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

In the tropics at last

Ningaloo Reef calling

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We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn the way to Coral Bay so we’ve finally made it to the tropics.

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We are treated to days in the high 20’s and mild evenings and we know we have finally put the wintery weather of the south behind us. Coral Bay is very touristy and the cost of things here reflect that.

The main attraction here is the Ningaloo Reef which is how this place is promoted by Tourism Commission. We went on a 2 hour cruise on a glass bottom boat plus I did some snorkeling. The coral whilst it was stunning it all it’s shapes and sizes was a dull brown in colour, not all the colours of the rainbow as you see in the tourist brochures. Why do they do this? All it does is disappoint you when you get there. Besides that, it was wonderful none the less and the fish are very friendly as you swim them. I also spotted a

We were also treated to some of the most stunning sunsets we’ve seen to date, which is the prefect way to finish the day there.

Posted by PhilAndDen 07:51 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

A week's stay in Carnarvon

Not our best stop so far

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The weather was pleasant and mostly sunny, but for most of the week we were here, it was very windy. We also felt we overstayed our welcome here as Carnarvon is not the most attractive place on the WA coast. There are things to do and places to see, but we could have done it in four days. There is also a vibe you get in this place which reminds me a lot of the more drab suburbs of Perth such as Balga or Langford (those of you who live in Perth will know what we’re referring to). Added to that, the caravan park we stayed at was like being in a retirement village. It was geared towards the 100's of retirees that head up from the southern parts of WA at this time of year. There were endless bowls tournaments, bingo nights etc and it made us feel quite out of place and made us want to head out of town even more.

A couple of weeks ago Carnarvon had a lot of rain in a short space of time, which made the NW Coastal Hwy to the south of town impassable. There were detours in place so we managed to navigate our way around.

The Gascoyne river was interesting to see (if you could) as most of it runs underground except when a cyclone has dumped a lot of rain in it’s catchment area, and then it quite a large torrent. There were places where we could walk of the river bed and the banks of the river are 200-300 metres wide and up to 7 metres deep. One such place was called Rocky Pool which is 55 Kilometres to the NE of town. This is a permanent waterhole on the river and was part of the mail run serviced by Charles Kingsford-Smith between Carnarvon and Mt Augustus. Here it felt like we were in a billabong that bush poets over the years have written of, and felt we were in a very special part of this country.

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Another special place we discovered was the blowholes which is on Point Quobba 75 Kilometres to the North. We have seen some spectacular coastline on the south coast of WA near Albany, but this was something else. The sheer force of the blowhole (and there are a few of them here) was defending at times – terrifying but strangely magnetic at the same time. We also did a bit of beachcombing as well and made a good addition to Denise’s shell collection, as well as watching all the teeming marine life in the rock pools. Well worth the 49 Kilometres off the NW coastal Hwy if you’re going past Carnarvon.

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As I said at the beginning, great to be out of here and next stop is one of the major tourist destinations in WA – Coral Bay and the Ningaloo Reef.

Posted by PhilAndDen 01:16 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

It's Denham's turn!

World Heritage Wonders aplenty

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For the first time on this trip, Denise takes control of towing the caravan. She says it’s a little nerve racking but passes with flying colours. On the way to Denham, we call into Hamelin Pool which is at the southern extent of Shark Bay. Here is a collection of unique organisms called Stromatolites – the oldest known form of life on earth and one of the reasons for Shark Bay’s World Heritage listing. You can read more about here .

We only have 3 days here but the highlight for us was our visit to Monkey Mia where Denise was selected to feed one of the dolphins.

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We also visit places such as shell beach but our main focus here is to relax and enjoy the pristine waters and environment, plus a spot of shell collecting which there are no shortage in this part of the world! On our last evening there, we take a bottle of wine, some nibbles, and watch the most stunning sunset we’ve seen together.

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We reluctantly have to leave this paradise for a week’s stay in Carnarvon.

Posted by PhilAndDen 06:20 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Kalbarri Kapers

The invasion of Kalbarri

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What a contrast to Dongara. Beautiful clear sunny days, but the nights are chilly <brrr>

We visited the seahorse sanctuary which is run by a couple of Marine Biologist who breed seahorses. You can visit their web site here .

We also visited Rainbow Jungle which is a place for breeding Australian birds.

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You can visit them online here . It’s highly recommended if you’re in Kalbarri.

There are some stunning landscapes in Kalbarri – the coastline to the south of town but still in the National Park,

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and the Murchison Gorge to the east. Simply stunning!

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We explored the gorges of the National Park the last day we were there (7th Aug) and it was the only rainy day we had there. There was quite a bit of rain and it made the gravel roads very muddy and half the park ended up in the wheel arches of the car! It looked like we had been in the outback for a couple of years!

Kalbarri has been a wonderful stop and we'd like to stay a bit longer, but Denham in the Shark Bay area is calling :)

Posted by PhilAndDen 23:54 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Finally left the city

Never thought we'd get here!

semi-overcast 18 °C
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We may have left the city, but we can't seem to escape the weather (not far North enough yet!). A strong frontal storm blew through on Monday 30th, and with us only being about 200m from the beach, copped the brunt of it. A lesson we learnt at the park in Perth was to bring in the awning in during high winds. In fact, we never put it out the whole time we were here. We did a bit of exploring namely to Greenough (pronounced Gren-uff) and the mouth of the Greenough River. A lot of the trees don't seem to get much break from the wind as they are all leaning over.

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We also spent a day at Geraldton but found it to be an unremarkable place. We did go to see the Pinnacles (in the Nambumg National Park) which is a major tourist attraction, and lots of tour companies do day trips here from Perth.

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Despite the weather, we really enjoyed our stay here.

Posted by PhilAndDen 07:15 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Finally moved into the van

No more house cleaning!

sunny 17 °C
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Well, we have finally moved out of the house :)

To tell the truth, we've been living in the caravan park since last Saturday night when we moved most of our heavy stuff into the storage unit.

Well, after a lot of planning we have finally made it to our first caravan park - Perth International tourist Park. This is their web site

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We will be living here from 4th June to 29th July. However, as the lease on our house wasn't up until 13th June, we stayed in the house until Sun 10th June. This meant we left the van in the park for a week longer than it needed to, but it was worth it for our peace of mind.

It's been a dry winter here in Perth and it only decided to start getting wet not long after we settled into the van. In fact, it has been either raining or stormy for the whole 6 weeks we've been in the park. I know Perth needs the rain, but it will be good to get away from it as we head north. Said all our goodbyes to my family on Friday 27th, and said goodbye to Danii on Saturday until she meets up with us in Broome. Although this is our first caravan park, it is well presented and has good amenities and would recommend it to anyone visiting Perth.

Posted by PhilAndDen 19:36 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

The Journey is soon to begin!

How we got to where we are now

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Denise and I are soon to embark on the biggest journey of our lives to date - travelling around this country of ours in a caravan. The idea was born last year about the time we spent a few days in Albany last October. In January we bought ourselves a 17 1/2 foot Coromal caravan (below):

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Denise and I have always loved travelling together which started when we first met in August 2005. I was on my way to Margaret River for some chill out time and as circumstance would have it, she ended up coming with me having only having known each other on MSN for 2 weeks! Not soon after that we went on our first bushwalk on the Bibbulmun Track here in Perth. This gave a taste of things to come which mainly involved the track, but more than anything being transported away from our day-to-day existence. There's something special being alone with nature :)

People have been asking us why we are doing this trip now? The reason is that we want to enjoy a trip of this nature while we are still in reasonably good health ;) There is a misconception that this is something for the oldies to do when they retire - not so. Since researching caravanning via various web sites and forums, I have discovered there are people of all ages who have upped stakes and headed off.

At this point in time, we are slowly getting things together and organized. I'm not going to bore you with the details but this week I organized storage for all the stuff we won't be taking with us. Today we packed some stuff from a couple of our bedrooms and put it into storage. Denise said it was cleansing to sort this stuff out and it's a nice feeling to get the ball rolling. Apart from booking us into the caravan parks we want to stay in in WA, I bought us a laptop. It is a HP Pavilion DV63202TU with all the goodies we want. Is is running Windows Vista which is a a bit of a learning curve for me, but it's a nice PC.

I've created this blog thanks to the recommendation of our friend Sharon whose space here can be found here. Good luck with your trip Sharon!

Excuse the waffling, but I wanted to set the foundation for this blog so you can see how our journey is progressing. When I get this hang of this site, I'll have a map on here!

Phil and Denise

Posted by PhilAndDen 18:18 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

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