Thursday, 4 September 2008


2/09/08 Denham – Shell Beach – Billabong Roadhouse – Kalbarri 375(11339) kms

We woke to still, calm conditions, a first for the two nights and a day we had spent in Denham. The southerlies blow pretty much constantly there and apart from the all to obvious wind generators on the outskirts of town, the other tell tale sign are the trees ... most are growing on a 45 degree lean to the north!

We went out last night to a local musicians’ jam night. Only saw one act, who sang for an hour before anyone else turned up. Good on 'em for having a go and keeping a musical culture alive in such a small place.

We were back down the Shark Bay peninsula with reasonable speed, although I couldn't prevent Sue from having a look at Shell Beach. A wide expanse, it is made up entirely of small crushed shells which are crushed further industrially and used as road base, food and compressed into building blocks. The local Anglican Church is constructed entirely from compressed shell blocks. I avoided other stops along the way mainly on the credit I earned from buying Sue a mocha before we left town.

We turned back south onto the North Coastal Highway at the Overlander Roadhouse and continued another fifty km to the Billabong Roadhouse. Roadhouses out here take the place of the small towns we have in the eastern states and they contain a smorgasbord of services. We had a nice lunch and cuppa whilst Sue swapped "where we've been stories" with a young lady who was intend on telling you that her experiences were better. Whatever floats your boat!

Road side wildflowers
The next 130 km blossomed – literally - into some of the most spectacular scenery of the trip. The closer we got to the Kalbarri turnoff, the more wildflowers were on display. Yellows, pinks, mauves, purples, blues in all sorts of sizes and shapes were everywhere! One paddock was yellow with wildflowers as far as the eye could see and then disappearing over the hill. It was like a Van Gogh landscape! You hear about the wildflowers before you come but nothing can prepare you for the scope, variety or magnitude of their existence.

The other two developments were the appearance of farms - hadn't seen those since early in the Qld leg of the trip - and trees. Eucalypts were back in style and blow me down if they weren't all in flower too! I never thought I would be excited by wildflowers but that's because I've never seen displays like this. Too soon we turned onto the Kalbarri Rd and the flower displays died away from continuous ground coverage to frequent roadside clumps and shortly we crested a hill and there was the sea, just where we had left it.

Kalbarri is a little village, surrounded by lots of tourist accommodation and the usual operators who milk the tourist cow. Outside of that, the national park is on all sides except the ocean. We set up - yeah, tent to sleep in here - did some shopping and then went to the south of the village to watch the sunset. Special but we are very much on a promise from nature here so it scores two full days and three nights but despite the treats here, we are closing in on Perth. Only eight nights to go before we get there and my tour of the WACA is starting to sharpen a keen edge on my anticipation.

3/09/08 Kalbarri

After yet another ordinary night of broken sleep (what's the point, I can do this at home), we were both reluctant starters in the tourism stakes. Maybe the pace of things and the constant go, go, go is catching up with us. If so, a planned few days resting up in Geraldton should help. We have even booked a cabin! Anyway, I got the washing done but not before three women went back for their husbands because they were scared of the hairy guy in the yellow bandanna - I kid you not. This tale was relayed to me by one of the men.

Kalbarri Gorge
Finally, mid-morning, we slowly made our way out to Kalbarri NP and the look outs above the Murchison River and the gorge it has created. The last 20 km are corrugated dirt and deepish sand so my spirits were built up with some fun driving. Once again, the Forester was in champion form. The lookouts were interesting, not the least for the complete lack of safety precautions. A small sign warned walkers as they approached the lookout but that was it. So far, this policy of user's own risk has been consistent in all the national parks we have visited in WA. It was pleasing to not have ankle biters in tow as the thought of having an adventurous boy running ahead of me at these places made me squirm merely at the thought. The views were, at best nice and would have been spectacular if we had been travelling north but after Karijini NP, everything else pales.

The return drive was even more fun. We slipped down to the beach in Kalbarri and had our bread roles whilst seagulls vied for our attention. We chose to feed the lame, one-legged one and all went well 'till a bossy one intervened and was taking food from our gimp bird. Enough for Sue, she jumped up and chased the bossy one for five minutes, yelling abuse as though it had a fluent understanding of English. Suitably chastened, it disappeared to bully others and the herd went with it. It was at that point the lone, lame gull dropped his second leg into place and started calling for more food. We both fell apart in some out-loud laughing.

After lunch it was the obligatory cafe break and then back to the outskirts of town for a 2 km wander through the wildflower sanctuary. Fantastic! Flowers were in bloom everywhere and with explanatory notes on the plants to name and describe what we were seeing. This was one of our best hours since early July. Returning through the office, we were informed that half of the leased land the sanctuary sits on is to be sold off to developers so they can build a sixty unit holiday resort! Our signatures quickly attached to the petition to stop this ridiculous change.

We finished our sightseeing with a visit to Red Bluff and a spectacular sunset.

Home again, to set a tarp in readiness for tomorrow's predicted thunderstorms. We must be getting good at this stuff as it was up and secure in 20 minutes. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Kalbarri sunset
4/09/08 Kalbarri

Slow and steady today. Sue had the morning wandering the shops and I spent it adding photos from the film camera to the collection on the webpage.

This afternoon we went to the Seahorse Farm, which was a lot better than I had expected. Sue has had a love affair with these little seagoing curios since her days as a single figured imp running about just a short walk on a hot day from the ocean at Yamba. This facility breeds seahorses for the pet market and are replacing the practice of collecting seahorses from the wild and selling them in pet shops. Wild seahorses tend to die fairly quickly after they arrive in a home tank and therefore the high turnover isn’t good for them or the ecosystem they are part of. Lots of thought has gone into this business and it’s good to see money being made whilst the natural environment is being protected. Not only that but they were cute.

Our second and last port of call was the Rainbow Jungle - an oversized aviary of Australia parrots. Lots of colour in these beautiful birds but I'm not quite sure I swallow the philosophical basis to the business. As pleasant as the cages have been made, they are still cages and all of these birds, from the South American Macaws through to the small Australian Pitas, need to roam in wider environs than provided here. Yes, it’s good that people get to see these birds at pecking distance … good for people that it. I had a strong urge to entertain a Sarah moment and open the cage doors.

We had a few bevies at one of the local shrines to personal indulgence – I had a lovely Guinness - and then home for tea. Geraldton tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderated before being posted.