Category Archives: 2015

Rocks and Rays

Spring had spring, the grass was rizz

– so off we went, without a tizz.

 

For short cut to the video story,  see the YouTube below:

 

This time, a fairly short 4 week trip into the north-west corner – taking in the Pilbara, then north-west to Ningaloo,  and home again, home again jiggity jig –  down the west coast with a side trip to the Kennedy Ranges.

First destination was Karijini National Park with its rugged beauty of the gorges, it’s beautiful waterfalls and sparkling rock pools.  We had stayed there about 4 years ago where we had first spotted Ultimate Campers in the wild – and we decided this was the way for us to rough-it.

Fortescue Falls - Karijini

Fortescue Falls – Karijini

We stayed a couple of nights at Dales Gorge, covering all the walks and swimming holes there before moving on to the Karijini Eco Retreat area, which is closer to the more interesting gorges and somewhat more challenging hikes.

Waeno Gorge – Handrail Pool

Then onto a new find – which delighted us beyond expectations – the Millstream Chichester National Park, accurately described as “an oasis in the desert, nestled within the chocolate brown rocks of the Chichester Range, dotted with spinifex and snappy gums”  Great swimming holes and expansive camp grounds.

Lily Ponds – Millstream NP

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From there to Dampier to restock and catch up with FIFO son.  The library in Dampier another gem with friendly staff and fascinating local history, including true stories on the legendary Red Dog.

Red Dog Statue – Dampier

Heading west, we tackled the heavily corrugated road into Ningaloo Station for a prized three days camping on the beach with the reef just meters off-shore.

Beachside Paradise – Ningaloo Station

To experience the best of Ningaloo Marine Park our next camp site was at Osprey Bay.  As the crow flies this was just 30km away – but Yardie Creek was flowing so no vehicle crossing could be made, and we are not crows.  SO … the long way round via Exmouth – 180kms!

This was the turn-around point.  Heading home we stayed at Coral Bay to take a boat trip to swim with the Manta Rays and scuba on the reef.  Worth it?  Hell yes!

Swimming with Mantra Rays – a rare black bellied one

Tracking inland 150 kms from Carnarvon is the Kennedy Range National Park, which was quite a different experience – the ranges are rugged red sandstone known for wild flowers at this time of year.  It gorges did not hold much water when we visited, but we will be back at a wetter time as I’m sure it would be spectacular.

Gasgoyne Region – Crossing the Lyons River – not so wet

 

Best Bush Musician

Then home via beach camping at Gladstone (WA), a Murchison Station stay, the Kalbarri cliffs and an impromptu catch up with delightful Mad Max.

Camping on the Murchison River

So highlights were:

  • Millstream Chichester National Park
  • Swimming with Manta Rays
  • The bush musician’s fire side concert at Kennedy

Score – 4700 kms, and for once no damage to us.  But we did see a totalled caravan, and did our fair share of assisting the others.

 

When things turn pear shaped – one I couldn’t fix

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A visit to the world’s largest “Little Curiosity Shop”

We decided that February would be the best time to visit Tasmania.  So we trekked across the country with a brief stop-over visiting the Grampians before taking the somewhat boring 9-hour ferry trip across Bass Straight, to start a 4 week lap around the Apple Isle.

For the video story of the trip,  see the YouTube below:

What I liked about Tasmania

1. Hobart’s world-class Museum of Old and New Art a.k.a. MONA

The “Fat Car” – a ‘porsche’

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2. The crDSC_0088uise through Macquarie harbour/Gordon River area with its stunning scenery and brutal penal settlement history.

3. Cradle Mountain, part of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage area – fantastic mountain walks and breathtaking vistas. We were blessed with excellent weather.DSCN3404 DSCN3398 DSCN3392 DSCN3359

4. The West Coast – unspoilt, and still a little wild

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5. Port Arthur Historic Sites – a day well spent. Brilliantly presented and a fascinating history

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6. Tasmanian Leatherwood honey, especially when still in the comb- (Note to self – Never, ever lift the lid on a bee hive to look inside, again)

7. The Tasmanian National parks especially Mount Field, a gem just 65 kms from Hobart.  We also just had to visit Narawntapu NP for its cool name (beats its early name of Asbestos Range NP)

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8. Great caravan parks at Cradle Mountain, Port Arthur, Bridport

9. Really friendly, and sometimes strange, Tasmanians

10. Camping overlooking the beach at Boat Harbour Beach and in the Bay of Fires

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11. The views from Mt Wellington over Hobart

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12. Sheffield – the town of  murals

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13. Scallop pies

14. Trees – glorious big trees, and temperate rain forests

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What I disliked about Tasmania

  1. The weather – it rained on 50% of days we were there
  2. Disgusting pollution in the Derwent and Tamar rivers
  3. Shocking caravan parks Hobart, Launceston and Strahan – the world’s worst?
  4. Overcrowding in free camping areas
  5. Poor road surfaces
  6. Finding attractions closed because it is Monday, (or Tuesday, or Wednesday etc) or only open for limited hours!

Ok, so where does that leave us?  Tasmania, the only place where one can cross the Rubicon (river), go through a place called “Nowhere Else” and end up in the region of Paradise all on one day.  Tree carvings done with a chain saw?  And where else does one find a beer swilling pig?  At the Pub in the Paddock, of course!

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Tasmania is really just one big curiosity shop with claims of the biggest, oldest,  widest, most southerly, most westerly etc etc.  In some ways its also like stepping back 30 years to a quieter, simpler time.  Worth a visit, yes.  Four weeks?  Too long – three would have done it.

On the way home, we dawdled down the Great Ocean Road, stopping at Cape Otway NP, then onto SA visiting Mt Gambier’s volcanic blue lake, the Coorong NP and Yorke Peninsula (loved Innes NP and old Cornish towns) , before a layover in Streaky Bay.

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Score – 8 weeks, 11,200 kms, lots of memories, lots of great pies, and a resolve  never to holiday south of 37 degrees nor camp near a wind farm!