Adrian and Denise's Travel Diary. | 2011

We covered a lot of ground in the first year.  Denise brole her leg in two places at Lawn Hill, central Qld and at the same time,  had to fly to Brisbane for the funeral of her mother, Ellie.

We covered the top end of NT, seeing Kakadu and Litchfield among other dramatic landscapes.

Then over to fabulous WA with spectacular places at every turn.

The albums here are worth a long cuppa.

 

Dec 10 - New Norcia

Dec 10 - New Norcia

2011. December 10.
The monastery is the whole town of Benedictine monks, best to Google it for its interesting background. Only 100 kms from Cervantes is New Norcia. This monastery has several magnificent buildings that are now used for seminars and accomodation. They have a library housing thousands of books several hundred years old although we don't get to see them.Their home made beer is 7% and malty not unlike Coopers, we did see and taste them.Their museum and gallery held articles and paintings several hundred years old, worthy of the best museums.It was very peaceful there and could have stayed for a week to take in the stillness but had to get to Perth for maintenance purposes before going to the housesit. We came back after Xmas for 3 weeks of volunteer work, Denise catalogued their botanical specimens dating back to 1910,and I took hundreds of photos for calendars, archives and postcards. They put us up in their motel type quarters with 3 meals a day with wine. A good gig but we did work full bore to get it all done in time. The atmosphere was so serene and comfortable, which was helped by their home brewed Abbey Ale, home baked breads and great company. Dom Chris was the hospitality monk. He was a hoot. Been there for 28 years in the one "cell" although he has done trips overseas for study and research etc. They pray several times a day starting pre dawn, then don't talk after the evening prayers till the next morning.

Nov 06 - SeaLions

Nov 06 - SeaLions

2011. December 06.
An interesting point along the way to Cervantes was a tunnel used by stockmen to rest their cattle in. It's pitch black inside and when water is running through, there are crocs and snakes. You reckon we were wary?The wildflowers are along the Mt Leseur trail where the Landie's gearbox finally spat the dummy. We crawled to Cervantes and had the car trayed to Perth where $4200 fixed it. Cervantes is a nice place to break down in, beach, quiet, nice water and of course The Pinnacles. Then I went swimming with the sea lions - what a hoot. They were very friendly, very cute and came up very close.

Nov 2 - Pinnacles

Nov 2 - Pinnacles

2011. December 02.
The desert scene before us with its pinnacles of stone, thousands of them, was immense, and as far as the eyes could see. Incredibly we could drive through them and didn't see one bit of graffiti, such is the essence of this place. One of the theories of their creation was that they are tree trunks and roots slowly petrified/fossilised and uncovered through erosion. I lost my main photos through a hard drive crash and only recovered a few small quality ones but it gives you the idea of the place.

Nov 20 - Geraldton

Nov 20 - Geraldton

2011. November 20.
Driving down the coast from Kalbarri to Geraldton, we came across a few interesting places. The Pink Lake - pink with bacteria, the lake is bright to dark pink and purple and is very salty. There are hard salt crystals coating the shore, which tasted very good actually. No I didn't lick the ground, we picked some up. Port Gregory was a cute little town on the beach and had bright yellow algae around the reeds in its ponds. Horrocks Beach had its own blowls lawn, golf course, tennis court - for only a few hundred people. The quaint fibro shacks lined up in rows at 90 degrees to the beach are worth 3 to 5 hundred thousand dollars!!!! We passed a very old rock shack on the side of the road, one of a few along the way. Pink Lake Northampton was a town full of original, old buildings. Two being the church and old convent. The church built with rock, not bricks. A very pretty town. Oakabella Haunted Homestead showed us how harsh life on the farm was, but the cheds and homestead were very solidly built, again with rocks. The barn had interesting buttresses on its corners. We stayed at Coronation Beach, a camping ground with good toilets, bbqs and shady pergolas. Its main claim to fame is its hosting of wind surfing and kite surfing competitions so of course the place was extremely windy. It was hot and windy with flies and bees so we left after just 2 days. The big smoke of Geraldton is next for supplies. It's a big city of 35,000 people with Maccas, Bunnings etc so it feels like the big smoke. The beaches are all around the town and some are just off the main streets which make for a pretty place. It's well laid out and easy to get around. The port loads ore and salt and is the backbone and cash cow of the town. Some of the buildings are very old but well maintained, the churches in particular are impressive. We stayed a few days to shop, stock up, sight see and rest up. The memorial to the sunken HMAS Sydney that saw 645 of its men lost in its sinking just off Geraldton, is now the official second war memorial in the country. A humbling experience.

Nov 16 - Kalbarri NP

Nov 16 - Kalbarri NP

2011. November 18.
About 250 km south of Shark Bay is Kalbarri which is a coastal town with rugged cliffs as the shoreline and mountain ranges and gorges to its north west. The Murchison River goes to hundreds of kilometres and is one of the few rivers that has permanent water which is a welcome sight after many months of dry dusty rocky terrain. The kalbarri National Park has the obligatory gorges along the river but the area is mostly well-known for its flowers. Along a few kilometres on the sides of the road towards the town were masses of wildflowers. Our heads were like spectators at a tennis match as we drove along the road with our head snapping left and right looking at flowers and going oooh and aaah. Alas I had sold my macro lens so had to use a compact camera all my wide-angle lens with its close-up facility, so the photos aren't as good as they could be with proper gear but the flowers themselves are so magnificent, you'll get the picture. The place was so nice we decided to stay a week

Nov 01 - Kennedy Ranges

Nov 01 - Kennedy Ranges

2011. November 01.
About 230 kms NE from Canarvon is the Kennedy Range NP which comprises of at least 20 gigantic spurs with gorges inbetween. We trekked: Temple, Escarpment, oneycomb and Draper's Gorges. We got blown away, literally, at Sunrise View where the winds were about 100 kph, seriously, no exaggeration. The rocky tors were over a km high millions of years ago but are now stubs in comparison, although still imposingly high. We stayed for a week in what is termed a desert clime, with strong gusts of wind, millions of flies and ants and only one other camper in our area. We even had some rain now and then, jsut enough to settle the dust and wash the car and van. The walks were very tough, over and up very rocky terrain. It was about 32 but seemed hotter becasue of reflected heat from the rocks. No animal life due to the absence of water. We found heaps of fossils which was very exciting. It was a very pleasant stay becasue of its quietness and massive mountains all around the camp site.

Nov 26 - The  Blowhole

Nov 26 - The Blowhole

2011. November 27.
A very cheap spot at $5.50 per night in a shanty town area provided many surprises. The coral and fish were beautiful, the best snorkelling so far, and the cliffs were rugged and scary. The lagoon was the best spot for snorkelling.I even chipped oysters off the rocks on the reef at the end of the lagoon. They were the sweetest ones I've ever had. There were literally millions of them.We met a local, Ray who gave us battered fish for tea and offered to take me balloon tuna fishing the next morning but the wind wasn't right.A German couple, Axel and Dagmar were great snorkelling companions and good company generally. We met them when I had to ask for a tow out of the deep sand with the van in tow. We talked and talked over the couple of days there and were sad to part company.Our van spot with no one in sight was just metres from our own beach. The weather was perfect.We'll remember this spot for many good reasons.

Nov 08 - Shark Bay area

Nov 08 - Shark Bay area

2011. November 08.
About 300 km south of Carnarvon lies a peninsula that takes in the famous stromatolites, Shell Beach, Monkey Mia, and the rugged Francois Peron National Park. The stromatolites, rock laden with bacteria, are one of the earliest forms of life on earth, 3 1/2 billion years ago. They were one of the first forms of life that created oxygen from the atmosphere which started off the whole chain reaction of life as we know it. They only exist in two or three places in the world and are unchanged in the form from their earliest existence. It was quite eerie looking at this expanse of early life form. I'm not quite sure that we have evolved successfully since then. Just a few kilometres away is Shell Beach, so-called because the beach is made up of tiny white shells over 5 m deep, on a beach about 100 m wide and about 10 or 15 km in length. The water, again, was crystal clear but a bit chilly. We free camped along the east of the peninsula about 25 km south of Denham which is 25 km east of Monkey Mia. Once again we put the van on the edge of the cliff/dune about 10 m from the rugged shoreline and had a magnificent view over the inlet. The wind was about 40 to 70 ks so we were pretty much restricted to inside the van when we were home. Leaving the van there during the day, we drove to the other spots. Denham was a very pretty small town with brand new modern buildings, all along the main street on the edge of a sparkling bay. The wind was pretty fierce but the weather was perfect. Not much there except a stepping stone towards the other attractions. Monkey Mia on the western side of the peninsula was an absolutely beautiful spot with magnificent crystal clear and blue and turquoise waters, though still chilly, we went for a refreshing swim. Unfortunately the feeding of the Dolphins had finished for the day because of a newborn restricting the movements of the pod. There was no wind here and because the caravan park, pub, beach and water was so nice, we were tempted to stay there for a few nights, but didn't. We drove the rugged 50 km four-wheel-drive track up to the tip of Francois Peron National Park where we saw sharks, dolphins, dugongs, manta rays and thousands of birds. In fact I went for a swim towards a manta ray to take a photograph but he quickly swam off. The aquarium on the peninsula was a bit of a letdown for $17 a head although we did learn a few things. It was certainly a good change to leave rocks, rocks, gorges and gorges behind us and be around a bit of blue water and cooler weather. From now on will be driving down the coastline towards Perth so water and cooler weather await us. Denise's ankle is much better so she is able to go on all walks now which is very welcome.

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