Thursday, 30 June 2011


We were booked into Cable Beach Caravan Park for four nights which we thought was pretty good considering we had been told unless we booked before we left home we wouldn’t have a hope of getting in. However most of the people here seem to be long term guests, the average being about 6 weeks so there are a few spaces for us travellers and we as usual are lucky. It has been a great park with plenty of shade as the temperatures have been around 30 degrees by lunch time and only dropping down to about 19 overnight. Tough but we’re managing, thanks for all your enquiries.

It had been a plan, much anticipated by Suey to purchase some pearls to celebrate 35 years of wedded bliss, however our celebration was somewhat tempered by the price tag of Broome pearls. $96,500.00 was the string of pearls I fancied and they weren’t the most expensive so we passed them by. The pearls are to die for but what would happen if they came adrift when I was wearing them. The anxiety didn’t bear thinking about.

We have been swimming everyday and it has been fantastic, lovely and warm and the beaches clean and the water beautiful shades of blue and turquoise and quite clear although not as good as Exmouth. The beach has very compacted sand and we drove our car along the beach just ‘cos we could which Ian really enjoyed.

 We realised when Patto alerted us that food and drinking have been missing lately so today especially for you David and Diane we forced ourselves to go to Matso’s brewery and sampled their fine wares including a very fine mango beer and a ginger beer that was very refreshing accompanied by a platter of meats, cheese, bread and pickles.  It was a tough job but we did it!

This evening, being our last we went back down to the beach for the sunset and to watch the camels making their way along the beach. If you look very carefully at the camels with their passengers you will see …… not us on their backs, but they looked great and it was a lovely way to finish our visit to Broome.

Now we take a turn inland which will be different and we’re looking forward to continuing on.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

On to Broome

After we left Karratha we drove on to Point Samson for the night which turned out to be the place we should have stayed instead of Karratha as it was lovely. We were right by the ocean in a new caravan park and really felt as though we had left the industry of Karratha a world behind. On the road out we stopped and took a photo of the hard hats which one enterprising joker put on top of an anthill which of course led to another and another and now they line this part of the highway for 50 metres or so. Wonder what excuse these fellas give when they arrive on the job without their essential hard hats!

We could see the huge ships out in the ocean waiting to load or leaving as the case may be with their huge loads of iron ore and they are truly immense.

We left Point Samson and drove on to our first relatively short nights stop at a camp called De Greys River. From the road as you turn off it appears to be relatively small although well spread out but once you are off the road it goes on a long way along the river with last night probably hosting upwards of thirty travellers in an assortment of vehicles from the now familiar station wagons of the young tourists who often arrive after dark and leave at first light, to vans of a wide and varied assortment and range of sophistication.

For a moment we were unsure of whether we were going to make it into the stop as Ian indicated some way back to the vehicle behind us our intention to turn right off the highway. The vehicle must have interpreted our indicator as the go ahead to pass us despite the double lines and pulled out to pass us just as we turned right off the road. Fortunately they sped off as we would have been unable to avoid them and would be telling a different story today!

 We spent a very pleasant night beside our fire, at first listening to the demise of Essendon (Kate, you should never have bet on that one, Ian is waiting for his half dozen coldies as arranged!).  When the ABC commentator read an SMS message from an Essendon supporter who told his wife as he handed her the remote control , ”You can watch anything you like!” we too decided to retreat to the inside of the van and watch a Pink Panther DVD which proved to be a lot more entertaining especially for Suey!

We set off around 9am the next morning for our last camp spot on the road before Broome which was Stanley Rest area. It was not quite as good as the previous night but still more than adequate as a spot to set up for the trip into Broome on Sunday where we will spend four nights at Cable Beach.

When we stopped at a roadhouse for fuel we saw this on the back of a Winnebago Camper “A Wheelie Good Suitcase”! Very clever and probably more suitable for publication than the really amusing stuff we read on the back of the Wicked Vans!

Thursday, 23 June 2011


Yesterday we left very sadly our wonderful spot at Exmouth to travel on to Karratha. We stopped the night beside the Robe River at a free camp together with more than 25 vans! We certainly felt very safe there and had a fantastic night’s sleep.

In the morning we set off for Karratha and caught up on the shopping and had a quick look around. A mining town it is and for us not all that exciting. Expensive at the caravan park at $50.00 and we were very pleased to have only booked one night.

Our next stop is at Point Sampson which is only 50kms further on but we’ve been told swimming is great so that will be something to look forward to.

I forgot that we had taken some great pictures of Turquoise Bay so am putting them up today, especially after Pete’s comments on seeing his father in a rashy which I thought he would have applauded as excellent sun protection. There is no pleasing some is there? Just wait till he sees Suey in hers ….. maybe not!

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Whale Sharks

We were a little concerned as we started out our day with an early departure at 7am from the caravan park. The guides were quite upfront in telling us that the weather was not great and that when we got out, if the wind didn’t improve there was a very real possibility that we may not even continue and if we did continue we may not see any whale sharks.

It’s a bit disappointing, but as we knew they are wild creatures and not at our beck and call so what would be would be. It was pretty rough and we all had to have a trial snorkel to test our gear and to ensure we were able to cope with the conditions. No pressure! So we made sure we looked confident, even though it was a lot harder than our two previous tame sessions at Turquoise Bay which probably lulled us into a false sense of security.

We had heard from some other campers at the park that on the previous day they had to wait 5 hours to see any sharks and even then only one so we were not exactly filled with a great sense of optimism. We enjoyed a couple of cups of coffee and investigated the onboard toilet, lucky its small or you could fall over, so we vowed to reduce the intake of liquid.

Suddenly a shout went up “Manta Ray” and we were into our gear like well oiled machines. At the given command of “go, go, go” we were off to see a giant manta ray up close and personal. It was fantastic and they are incredible creatures as they travel effortlessly through the water and oblivious to us. It was wonderful and we all clambered back with Suey looking somewhat undignified, that being a very good reason for not buying the reveal all video!

We all agreed that even if we didn’t get another opportunity we had had a great time and had nothing to complain about. We were then served a lovely lunch which we were enjoying as the spotter plane worked hard overhead. This is no small operation and there are a lot of overheads and charges which we now understand add up to the costs to everyone. Then unbelievably up went the shout “whale shark”. Stuff lunch we can have that anytime, whale sharks we can’t have again, so down with lunch into the bin and into our gear as we waited impatiently for our boat to get into the correct position. There are very strict protocols which we are briefed on a number of times. It is quite obvious that all the operators want this to be a sustainable industry and that they are deeply committed.

Only ten people are allowed in the water at any one time from the boat and we were divided into two groups. Ian and I were in the first group in and it was spectacular. We were able to snorkel alongside this fantastic creature from about 4 metres away, if you could keep up that is! With the clarity of the water you had a very detailed look at the 7 metre long Whale Shark which the crew were very excited about at as this was longer than they had seen for a while. We were so lucky. In no time our appointed 10 minutes were over and we made our way back onto the boat to enable the others to have their time. Back on board there were high fives all ‘round as we shared what we had seen.

As we were on a faster boat than many out today (and to our good fortune at the right place at the right time, as others had to come from the other end of the watch area) we had arrived at the site quite quickly and then as luck would have it we were given another opportunity and back in we went for another look. It was more than we could have hoped for. After we left the site the whale shark retreated to the lower depths and the other boats which arrived shortly after we had finished, missed out. Their whole day was possibly over then as they waited patiently for it to resurface whilst we proceeded back to the beach.

On the way back a whale emerged and breached within our sight.  What a way to finish the day.

In case you have the opportunity, check out  . I guess if we had a bucket list, this could well have been on the top! But, boy  are we tired and sore tonight now we are back!
We have some photos taken today and will have to wait to get the underwater camera photos developed. (Great hint Julie!)


Well settled into a park at Exmouth and off to explore. The snorkelling here is supposed to be superb so that is what we tried first.

As you can see we both have flippers, masks and snorkels and had a fantastic day. The water is so warm and clear and we were only 10 metres from the beach and seeing so many fish of different sizes and colours just too beautiful to describe. We swam twice each day for the first two days at Turquoise Bay which was highly recommended by Julie and Sebastian and they were absolutely right. We now feel quite confident with the snorkelling and tomorrow, also on Jule’s recommendation we are taking the big plunge and going to snorkel with the whale sharks!

Coral Bay

OK so we didn’t stay at the station! The day started with rain and continued with more rain. As we drove up to the station we noticed that both the entry roads we had been told to use were closed and the only road left open we knew was heavily corrugated and not suitable. So plan B which is what we do because we don’t really have a plan A most of the time, saw us happily ensconced in a park at Coral Bay, surprisingly not meeting Karen and Allan this time.

At last swimming is our pleasure and the water is unbelievable here. The west coast is amazing and we are really thinking this is the place for swimming and can’t wait to go up a bit further as we are told it only gets better, hard to imagine.

After this we are on to Exmouth for more swimming and perhaps even something extra special.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


We arrived in Carnarvon yesterday and as we drove into the caravan park …. There were two familiar faces as we made our way to our spot. Allan and Karen are now accusing us of being stalkers!

We set off to stock up on fresh fruit and veg. which from here on it is quite plentiful. A kilo of bananas for $5.00 is quite good and a bag of tomatoes for $4.00 is good too! So we are stocked up and looking forward to seeing more fresh fruit which will be lovely. Not too many food miles for fruit around here. We have picked up a “Gascoyne Food Trail” brochure which is a great guide to finding the best retail and food stops along the way.

This park comes well recommended according to the book and its star attraction seems to be the bowling green only twenty metres from our door.  Today there was an announcement over the loud speakers (never had them in a park before, this is a trip of firsts!) to tell everyone to put their names down for the afternoon game commencing at 1pm. You could borrow bowls if you didn’t have your own and from the noise emanating from the Bowling Green now (4.10pm) the competition is fairly fierce!

Also a reoccurring theme here is the arrival of the film crew we met at our last stop who were here filming another episode and spent another day crouching on the bowling green espousing the virtues of lawn bowls and how fantastic caravan parks are! By the way this park isn’t even the designated “retirees” park. Yes there is a park in town which specialises in retirees. Old as we are we bypassed that one.

Whilst out and about today we explored the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage Museum which was interesting and never fails to show something original which an ingenious person has thought out to meet a need. In this case it was a petrol motor powered water pump which originated in Norwich, England, and uses a chain to bring water to the surface from any bore or well. These were often carried by drovers, and early settlers.

We also went to Gwoonwardu Mia which is the Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre where we were lucky enough to see an exhibition of local indigenous artwork and weaving which we really enjoyed.

Tonight we are having a BBQ with Karen and Allan and leaving tomorrow for Warroora Station at 14 mile Beach which is 155km south of Exmouth. Notably we’re being forced to book a bit ahead now and have booked right up to Kununurra.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Monkey Mia

Today we drove 25kms to Monkey Mia to see the dolphins but unfortunately we found out when we arrived that we needed to be there at 7.45am for the briefing and then the feeding takes place anytime up till 12 o’clock. However the dolphins were still there cruising up and down without being fed so we were well satisfied.

Just so we didn’t feel the trip was without wildlife up close and personal, there was an Australian Pelican propped on the beach just waiting for his photo to be taken and striking a number of poses including an acrobatic one worthy of a gymnastic which we didn’t manage to capture. None the less we reckon these are pretty good too. For those interested in facts the bill will hold up to 10 litres, and they can live for up to 25 years in the wild.

We know you are probably sick of hearing how beautiful the water is here but that’s just the way it is and we drove out along a lagoon on our way back and the water is so clear you can see the small fish all along the shore.

Off tomorrow, after thinking how lucky we were to get a spot here.  The park is completely booked now, and today they filmed an episode of a WA Travel Show and talked to the people next door who are here for three months each year, not a bad gig, but there is still so much more to see so we’re happy to be on the road again.

Saturday, 11 June 2011


We are getting a little nervous about getting into parks as we are being told by a number of people heading south of passing 100 or more vans heading in the same direction as us. Our theory of not booking is looking a little shaky to say the least, but at least we are well set up if we can’t find a suitable park and if last night is any indication, we’re better off not in a park.

However we were into town at 9am and so lucky to find a great park for two nights overlooking to ocean and within handy reach of the attractions we are keen to look at.

Having set up we had a quick lunch and went to Ocean Park Aquarium at Shark Bay which was fantastic. We took a guided tour through all the aquariums and the large lagoon containing the sharks. Suey was just thinking it is nearly warm enough to dip into the sea but thanks to our guide Ed, the shower is looking a better option for getting wet. Its scarey how many nasties there are out in the ocean just in front of us!

We’ve learnt the difference between poison and venom (either way, it’s not nice!) and that applying hot water as hot as you can stand is the best remedy for both! Ahh sweet comfort … not!

We met Bob the loggerhead turtle who turned up on the Albany beach, way too far south and way too cold. He has come to the aquarium to recover and fatten up before being released again.
We also saw a stone fish and hope that is as close as we get to one. One really nasty fish! It was a really interesting place to visit and we’re looking forward to Monkey Mia tomorrow.

Whalebone Bay

Further along the coast towards Denham, Monkey Mia etc. there are a number of camps listed in our Camps 6 book and highly recommended by “Stumpy” (this could be ugly!) which we decided to investigate anyway. All four sites were lovely and we decided on Whalebone Bay for our nightly stop.

At this point we differed from Stumpy in that we rang up for a permit to camp which incidentally cost nothing but we were informed entitled us to one free night’s camping and that’s all. Stumpy stayed for a number of nights and was happy not to be checked up on. Why didn’t that surprise us!

We went for a walk along the beach which was very stoney and not to be undertaken in bare feet. Now you get to hear tell the tale, as revenge for Ian’s lack of sympathy when Suey fell into the water at Cape LeGrande of how Ian was balancing on a rock in the shallows. Sue was just telling him to be careful and if he fell in there would be as much sympathy for him as he showed on that occasion when as luck would have it, in he went and emerged looking very sad with a soaked sneaker. As he only has one pair it was quite a problem for him!

Well, this was a popular place and soon we were joined by a number of other campers but by that stage we were well settled only twenty-five metres from the ocean and in front row position for the best darn sunset you could ever see.

We sat outside the van with our wine and Thai curry and enjoyed the show. What a night. Everyone had told us the sunsets here were magnificent and they are. We even broke out the mozzie coil and stayed outside for a long while as it didn’t get cold at all.

On to Denham after a picture perfect night.


Off to Kalbarri which had been our intended stop for the previous night, but never mind, better late than never. We arrived at a park where we could have one night as the site was booked for the next night. Allan and Karen had told us we would get the best water here as from here on water is a scarce commodity. Thanks to their advice we had purchased some containers in Geraldton and were prepared to load up a little more.

We drove into our appointed site only to find Allan and Karen parked opposite!  So that was probably our reward for leaving Geraldton somewhat dazed!  We had already enjoyed a couple of nights with them in Geraldton and shared a meal and a number of drinks so it was great to see them at Kalbarri. We decided to have drinks with them only to be invited to dinner of Allan’s freshly caught whiting and homemade chips using their deep fryer, which I only mention because it had the most unique way of draining the oil. Details of which I am prepared to discuss in private, but not really suitable for the blog.

Suffice to say after a magnificent dinner, a couple of wines, discovering a mutual admiration of Bundaberg Rum Liqueur which we happened to have on board and it being Karen’s birthday on Friday  we had a very pleasant evening.

We’re on to different places now but no doubt we’ll meet up with them again as it just seems to be the way!

Leaving Geraldton

Well, we thought we were leaving Geraldton early on Wednesday morning, planning to have the suspension on the van checked as arranged and be on our way. Wrong! Oh, so wrong!

The suspension ‘problem’ that Ian thought he had noticed when we left Perth and thoughtfully took a photo of and took it to the  van repair centre where it was decided that it needed further investigation.

Yup, so far so good. We left the park at Geraldton telling our friends, Allan and Karen that we would no doubt see them later that day at Kalbarri. Not quite. You see the suspension was not only suspicious but stuffed. OK, that doesn’t sound good.

Fortunately we were in early and there was a fifth wheeler booked in to have the suspension replaced. Lucky us, sad for him as they decided to use the suspension that was waiting for him on our van as otherwise we would have had to wait for one from Melbourne. Wouldn’t we have loved that! We don’t know what story the owner of the fifth wheeler got, and frankly ….. care factor …. Nil!

To fill in our day which now looked more than a tea break, we went back to the HMAS Sydney Memorial and had the opportunity to take the guided tour which was well worth the time.

Anyway new suspension fitted, some further reduction on the kids’ inheritance and we are on our way. Good news is, the suspension would probably have given way and knowing us we would have been in the middle of no-where and Ian said we would have been waiting for a flat top to load us up and take us somewhere where it would have cost more. (So there Peter!)

We stopped for the night at a free camp where Ian met a very interesting one legged man by the name of “Stumpy”, had a peg leg not a prosthetic limb (I kid you not!), a picture on the back of his camper of a pirate and a stuffed parrot in his van. God, he really looked like a pirate!  Sue stayed in the van and got dinner whilst Ian gleaned all the knowledge he needed of free camps and how to avoid fees in National Parks. This knowledge will not be used as Suey considered Stump’s credibility somewhat flawed.
Along the way we enjoyed a couple of the wildflowers we are a little too early for, so these ones really stand out amongst the rest  of green only plants at this time of year.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Geraldton Caravan Park

When we arrived at the park we notice signs advertising a ‘Cuppa for Cancer” only it was to be a BBQ with donations for a sanga in bread and of course the customary raffle.  The entertainment was to be the local Batavia Coast Pipe Band. Now anyone who knows Suey knows she is a sucker for the bagpipes. Many will remember our trip to Sydney with Pete and Dawn for the Edinburgh Tattoo and the pouring rain we experienced that night and the wonderful good humour of Dawn who knew we needed peaked caps to deflect the rain because that’s what happens in England. Thank goodness for Dawn!

Anyway, the rain on Saturday was not quite that bad but somewhat reminiscent! However we went along and it was a great evening , the entertainment really worthwhile and miraculously the rain stopped for the band.

Another cheery anecdote we picked up from the club at The Pinnacles printed on the wall as a Wanted poster which I thought might amuse.  


Woman to cook,

And clean fish

                                                                                          Dig worms         

And make love

Must have good boat

And motor

Please enclose

Picture of boat and motor.

Lucky Ian doesn’t fish!!

Geraldton – HMAS Sydney Memorial

This is a must see for anyone visiting Geraldton and is a most impressive and sobering memorial to the 645 men who perished aboard the HMAS Sydney in November 1941, just off the coast of Shark Bay whilst engaging the German Raider Kormoran. The memorial precinct is located at Mt. Scott overlooking the same ocean where HMAS Sydney fought its last battle. Every one of the men has their name engraved at this memorial on a black marble semi circle as you enter.

Just a few steps away stands a bronze figure of a woman looking out to sea, grieving for her loved one lost at sea. She is called The Waiting Woman.

The dome comprises 645 seagulls which represents one for each life lost and also is significant because at the original dedication of the site the sky was filled with swirling gulls who seemed to be there to share the solemnity of the occasion.

Central Greenough

We booked into a caravan park in Geraldton for a few nights and decided to stay on as we need to have the van looked at before we travel on to parts unknown and more to the point parts where services are limited. At this stage we will move on on Wednesday all things being well.

Whilst we have been here in a park right beside the ocean (we really do fluke this rather well now!) we’ve enjoyed some lovely walks along the beach although nothing compares to Cape Le Grand yet.

We have had mixed weather, although not as bad as home we realise but still not great, so we spent an afternoon exploring Greenough which was fascinating. Greenough is a historic settlement located 25km south of Geraldton and became a thriving agricultural settlement during the 1860’s but the threat of rust on the wheat crops combined with drought, flood and poor prices for agricultural products led to the area’s decline.

What remains is now restored and maintained by the National Trust and comprises eleven buildings. We visited the Greenough Store, Central Greenough School, Police Station and Gaol, St. Catherine’s Church, Greenough Road Board Office, St. Catherine’s Hall, Hackett’s Collage, Presbytery, Goodwin’s Cottage, St. Peter’s Church and the Greenough Convent.

Of note was the Police Station and Residence in which the story is told of how the police sergeant lived there for quite a number of years with his wife and eleven children. In the bedroom as pictured four children slept top and tail in each single bed, in the master bedroom there was a trundle in which three slept when the last outgrew the cot! Presumably the sergeant also kept the numbers up at the school and the Catholic Church. In fact he was such a good parishioner that the nuns gave him a house to live in for his retirement which ironically was much larger than the police sergeants’ residence!

It was a wonderful place to visit and to marvel how the women coped with their lot. The pictures from the school room certainly didn’t indicate that the children had a lot of fun, at least not the day the photo was taken.

On the way back into Geraldton we took a photo of one of these remarkable leaning trees which we seen a number of times in this area. They are red gum trees, and it is easy to see how much consistent wind they had in their formative years.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Cervantes/Pinnacles Desert

After our lovely stay in Perth we moved on not really sure of which way we would go except that our direction would be north. We nearly went off the coast and in fact at the last minute returned to a coastal direction although on the maps (and you know how Sue doesn’t ‘do’ maps!) the supposed coastal road wasn’t all that close to the coast.

What a surprise as we travelled along with the ocean right by our side for a good part of the way. We were really pleased with our decision and stopped for lunch so close to the ocean that the road has partly been reclaimed by the sea and as you can see our view from the van was perfect. We would have stopped for the night except for the really clear sign which clearly indicated that under no circumstances were we to even think of it! They have obviously heard of every reason for camping and would have none of it!

As we were having a walk along the beach we struck up a conversation with a lady walking her grand  daughter of four months (sounds familiar!) who said we absolutely had to go to the Pinnacles which we had passed a little way back and that there was a lovely caravan park nearby at Cervantes. Sold!

The park was really lovely and we didn’t take much persuasion to stay especially when we were offered a voucher for the footy club dinner that night for $55.00 a couple for the best seafood platter including a lobster caught not five minutes away that day and heaps of other local seafood. When Sue reminded Ian that it was their 35th Wedding Anniversary the next day he was sold too! (I had actually remembered by the way!)

After setting up camp we went to look at the Pinnacles which were amazing and spent a couple of hours walking through the desert which is in the Nambung National Park. In this area of varying coloured sand there are thousands of limestone pinnacles, which range in size up to 5 metres tall and two metres thick at the base.

They were formed thousands of years ago when ancient plant trunks or roots formed a weak cementation of calcite within the dunes and have been exposed by wind and shifting sands. Spectacular, and truly worth the visit.

We left on Wednesday morning and drove on to Geraldton where we will stay until Tuesday morning and have the opportunity to have a good look around.