Week 26 | Port Gregory to Port Denison

Day 176 – 179: Port Gregory

We are now starting week 26 of our year long journey and we have to pinch ourselves every day to remind each other how fortunate we are to be on this adventure.

Today is a rest day for Andrew and a work morning for me.  Telstra reception is very weak at Port Gregory and it’s a struggle to get anything done which is frustrating me to no end.  In the end I call it quits and decide to do some baking instead.  I’m making Mum’s fruit cake again as the last one I made was a total disaster and another batch of pickled cucumbers.  Today’s baking was a success, it also helps if you don’t substitute ingredients for the correct amounts.  Lesson learnt!  Late afternoon we take a walk to the beach and watch the whales breaching far out on the horizon.  How I wish I had a really good zoom lens to be able to capture the moment.

This morning we head off to Kalbarri for a drive to see what everyone raves about.  We certainly weren’t disappointed, it’s a beautiful seaside village bustling with tourists and every type of water sport you can think of.  We would love to come back (out of season) when the pace is a lot slower.

Chinamans Beach has a spectacular view of the ocean crashing over Oyster Reef and it’s exciting watching the boats navigating through the channel into the Murchison River.  At times the buoys are completely swamped by the waves. We walk further around to Chinaman Rock where I take a short video of the ocean, it is mesmerising.

There are quite a few other attractions that we are keen to visit along the coastline and Natural Bridge is the first stop.  A 750m walk along a meandering pathway on top of the cliff edge takes you out to a platform overlooking natural bridge.  The force of the Indian Ocean and decaying of the cliffs has sculpted the limestone rock into a bridge still attached to the coastline.

Island Rock is a short walk of 200m from the car park. It was once part of the natural shoreline but now stands solitary as a sea stack, it reminded us of the 12 apostles.

Next stop is Pot Alley and there is plenty of wow factor here. The view south from the cliff top truly captures the rugged beauty of the coastline. The cove below is hazardous with the ocean crashing against the cliffs, it’s a spectacular sight.

It’s been a great day exploring the natural attractions of Kalbarri.  The Western Australian coastline certainly has plenty of wow factor.

Another cold night in Port Gregory with temperatures going down to 9 degrees and another sleep in for us all.  I could get used to sleeping in till 8.00am especially when it’s cold.  Today is another rest day for Andrew and a bit of work for me.  He’s in charge of doing the washing today and I’ve changed the sheets over to our flanellette set.

We’ve met quite a few people over the past few days here at the park and it’s great to be distracted from time to time to have a chat.  There are plenty of Queenslanders travelling the coastline over here and the locals are giving us all sorts of information about the best places to stay and those to avoid.  Cinta wins everyone over, we have had many comments about how well behaved she is and how quiet she is.

I’m taking the drone up today to get some aerials over the beach and also some of the pink lake.  It’s been quite windy on and off all week, so today is my last chance before we leave.  A short walk from the caravan park and up a very steep hill is the water tanks that supply the village.  We head up there early and even though the wind is still a little stronger than I like I decide it’s now or never.

It’s a great flight and I get some good footage of the village and also the pink lake.  I’ve taken some aerial photographs too, so I’m feeling very confident and suggest we head down to the beachfront.  We meet our neighbours on the beach, they are mad keen fisherwoman so we head in the opposite direction so that we don’t disturb them.

The flight is going really well and I’ve got some terrific aerials of the beach and the pink lake.  I’m scooting up and down the shoreline (not going over the water though!) and all over the dunes and then my battery is getting low and the drone has told me that I’ve lost my compass.  Oh gosh, I’m trying to turn around and bring it back home and then a gust of wind crashes me into the sand dunes.  I try to recover but unfortunately the blades are spinning around in the tall grass and I’m going nowhere fast.

Andrew to the rescue!  Up the dunes he goes, I couldn’t stop laughing as he’s getting nowhere fast as well.  I’ve managed to turn the drone off and finally he reaches it and delivers it back to me.  Thank heavens it is not damaged!  It was a fun morning, now it’s back to the van to start editing the footage and post some photos to Facebook.  I hope you enjoy this short clip of some of the highlights of my flight.

Wildlife: whales, seagulls, honeyeater, laughing turtle dove, crows, kangaroos, sheep, pelicans, dead kangaroos

Day 180: Port Gregory to Mullewa

This morning we are packed up early and leaving Port Gregory by 9.00am, the temperature is 13 degrees.  A quick stop along the way at Northampton again to stock up on groceries and then we are heading to Mullewa which is about 168km away.  Mullewa is rich in both natural and cultural heritage and is well known for its abundance in wildflowers and is one of the few places in the world that the wreath flower grows.

The drive along the Chapman Valley Road was so picturesque with undulating hills and masses of crops being grown including lupin and legumes.  It was so lovely to see the countryside so green and to see water babbling through the small creeks.  Sheep and cattle were grazing in the pastures and the occasional horses where also sighted.

The Mullewa Caravan Park is seasonal and there is no caretaker here until August.  Bookings are made online or over the phone.  We’ve taken an unpowered site at $20 for the night.  It’s quite a large park with grassy sites and concrete pads.  There are a couple of drive through sites so we have taken one of those given that we are only here overnight and there is only 3 other caravans here.  The amenities are really old and when I open the coded door I feel like I have stepped back into the 60’s.  The walls are covered with tiles that have a green and brown bamboo print on them.  It’s quite wild!

After we set up we head into the information centre to find out where we can see some wildflowers.  We are well aware that it’s a bit early yet, but we are hoping that we will get to see some.  There are two walking trails so we head off to the Mullewa Bush Trail which has a scenic lookout over the township.   It’s a 2370m loop and we are assured that we will see some wildflowers along the way.

It’s only 17 degrees so it is a pleasant walk and we meet a family who is also doing the walk.  The track is a little rough and we are pleased to see a variety of bushes in flower.  We can only imagine how spectacular it will look in another 4 weeks when the season is in full swing.  There is no wreath flowers to be seen which is a bit disappointing but it was expected.  I managed to get quite a few photographs of different flowers so I was more than happy with the bush walk.

The remainder of the afternoon is spent back at the van relaxing and deciding where to next.

Wildlife: sheep, horses, cattle, hawk, crows, corellas, galahs.

Day 181: Mullewa to Mingenew

We have a bit of a travel plan in place after last nights discussion given that we now only have 10 days until we are due to arrive at our property sit in Whitby.  Our journey today is only 80km and after an overnight low of 8 degrees we enjoy a lazy start to the morning with a cuppa snuggled up in a warm bed.  By 9.50am when we are ready to depart it has warmed up to 14 degrees.  It feels good getting into the car with a temperature set at 23 degrees.

The drive down to Mingenew is picturesque as we are following the mid western region wildflower trail.  Rolling hills and pastoral lands are green as green as far as we can see.  There is plenty of wattle out along the road, the occasional banksias and every now and then some of the yellow and white everlastings.

We are staying at the Mingenew Springs Caravan Park.  It’s a small park and I’d hate to be reversing a caravan into some of these sites when they are full.  The sites are a good size but the road is very narrow.  The sign says to pick a spot and the caretaker will call at 5.00pm.  We do just that and after setting up we head to the main street to see what the township has to offer.

Andrew is disappointed that the bakery has a sign up saying they are closed for the next 3 days.  The local IGA is closed and only open for a few hours in the morning.  The pub is open and the Op shop is open.  We head for the Op shop to see if we can pick up a glass as we broke our favourite scotch glass.  Outside a few locals and their dogs are chatting so Andrew joins in while I have a good look around inside.  Bingo – we’ve scored a pre-loved glass.  No more drinking scotch out of a plastic cup and it was only $1.00!

The locals tell us that there is a polocrosse match on for the next 3 days so half the town is at the event.  There are around 500 people who live in the Mingenew district and there are 9 farms.  It’s a sleepy township with no one in sight as we drive around.

The Mingenew Hill Lookout has a great view over the township and pastoral surrounds and Depot Hill is the place to see all the wildflowers when they are in season.  We take a short drive out anyway just in case, but it is still too early for the wildflowers.  Back at the park we enjoy the rest of the afternoon sitting outside in the sun discussing the next 10 days travel plans.

Wildlife:  eagle, galahs, corellas, sheep, cattle horses, black cockatoos, No 28 parrots.

Day 182: Mingenew to Port Denison

Another cold overnight going down to 7 degrees and this morning we have the heater on in the van to warm ourselves up.  It’s going to get a lot of use during the property sit at Whitby.  We’ve taken our time getting started again today as the journey is only 57km.  We had planned on staying at Geraldton for a few days, however all the reviews on Wikicamps were not very impressive and our neighbours at Port Gregory had told us of a few thefts that week at Geraldton while they were there.  Given that info, we decided we’d stay elsewhere and take a day trip into Geraldton instead.

Port Denison is a crayfishing town and there is approx 3000 people here.  Dongara is on the other side of the Irwin River which meanders through both townships.  The Dongara Caravan Park which is situated at Port Denison is right on the beach and they offer a great deal to stay 4 nights and pay for 3.  We have a large grassy powered site for 4 nights at $29.25 per night.

After we have set up we head for a walk down to the beach.  The beachfront looks just like Port Gregory with ocean sea grass stacked up everywhere.  There are about half a dozen surfers further down the beachfront taking advantage of the waves and the breeze is fresh and salty on our faces.

Today is budget and blog day so here I am tapping away at the keyboard again while Andrew is watching the footy.

Our trip is going to be extended as we have managed to get a house sit in Tasmania for the Christmas and New Year period.  It will be the first time Andrew and I have spent Christmas alone and to be honest, we are looking forward to that this year.  All going well we’ll make it home for Mum’s 90th birthday in May.

Wildlife:  sheep, cattle, crows, galahs

Week 26 total expenses: $404.99, how we wish every week could be that good!  Somehow I think next week is going to be a little bit expensive with stocking up on food, fuel and grog!

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That’s a wrap for Week 26 of the Lap of the Map.

PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!

Week 25 | Denham to Port Gregory

Day 169 – 170: Denham

It’s an early morning alarm that we are waking up to today so that we can travel out to Monkey Mia to see the dolphins. The drive is only 25km from Denham and as we leave home and come over the hill we are greeted with another beautiful sunrise on the horizon. It’s a great time of day to be on the road.

Monkey Mia is a bustling tourist destination with prices to match and to be honest We both think that Shark Bay at Denham is far more attractive & has a lot more to offer.

Every visitor to Monkey Mia has to pay an entry fee and we are immediately given a concession rate, I keep telling Andrew it’s thanks to our grey hair. We’ve saved $10 on the park fee. All visitors are guided to the deck after entering through the gift shop, good marketing ploy.

A short introduction is given by the ranger and then we are invited to step out to the waters edge after 8.00am. There is over a hundred people here and being vertically challenged I instruct Andrew to head for the Jetty. Two rangers walk the shallows where female dolphins from two separate families come in to receive a small amount of fish. Feeding is strictly supervised by Parks & Wildlife to ensure that the dolphins behave and hunt naturally and teach their young hunting and social skills.

The young have come in with the mothers and they are squarking so it’s time to bid them farewell so they can swim out to deeper waters to nurse. It was exciting to see them in the wild in their natural environment.

This afternoon we take Cinta down to the lagoon for a swim. It’s a large lagoon that is fed by a very small stream of water from the bay. Crystal clear shallow water changes to aqua in the middle of the lagoon. Cinta is in her glory paddling around, it’s freezing cold though!

Another early start today as Andrew has booked a half day fishing trip. He’s going out with his friend Tim and they both look pretty excited when boarding the boat. It’s a lot smaller than I would like to be going out in. I’m preoccupied taking photos of sunrise as it’s putting on a lovely reflection show.

Lyn and I head back down to the beach just after 10.30 and get some morning tea from the bakery. They have a licence to print money there, the queue is out the door and the coffee and cakes are to die for. The boys dock at 12.30 and I meet them on the Jetty with anticipation of fresh fish for dinner. Only four fish come out of the esky and I have to admit I was feeling a bit disappointed as there were four guys on the trip. Andrew caught 12 snapper all undersize. At least they were biting and the thrill of reeling them in and measuring was had along with seeing dolphins and a dugong.

We’re baking a large snapper in the Ziggy tonight for the four of us. We’ve never baked a fish that large before so we’re hoping we don’t stuff it up. The alfoil is smeared with margarine, a layer of lemon slices followed by the fish. The gut is filled with more lemon slices and slivers of garlic and the top of the snapper covered with lemon slices and garlic too. Seasoned with salt and pepper it’s ready for the Ziggy. The aroma is driving us all wild, to say it was delicious is an understatement. Soft flesh, juicy flavour, mouthwatering. Winner!

Wildlife: dolphins, pelicans, seagulls, dugong.

Day 171: Denham to Hamelin Pool

I’m enjoying a later wake up call today and having my cuppa while watching the news. We are packed up by 9.30am and leaving Denham behind for a short journey down to Hamelin Pool.  It’s very pleasant travelling along at 21 degrees and we pop into Shell Bay at Wulgada on the way. Shell Bay is home to the Fragum Cockle. Over 4000 cockles live in one square metre of hypersaline water. Apparently they are up to 10 metres deep.

Further along we arrive at our park for the night at Hamelin Pool. Our journey was 104km today. The park is small and power is restricted so we take an unpowered site at $22 for the night. There is a $10 deposit required for the amenities block. The lady at the counter stresses not to drink the water due to the salt content.

After we set up we walk up the hill to view the old quarry and I take a drone flight to get some more practice before sunset. On my second flight which was far better than the first I realise when we get back to the van I forgot to press record for the video! Oh well another lesson learnt.

The stromatolites are a short drive from the park and to our surprise dogs on leads are allowed. Cinta is hesitant entering the boardwalk but continues on until we reach the area where the boardwalk diverges into a triangular area. The best time to view the stromatolites is on low tide however that’s going to be at 2.00am in the morning so we’ll give that a miss. There is plenty of schools of small fish in the shallows and also what appears to be a jellyfish. We’re not 100% sure if it is though. Small birds are nesting under the boardwalk and a brown goshawk flies onto the railing. He allows me to come quite close to take a photograph.

The clouds are really rolling in so we head back to the park so I can charge up my drone ready to come back for sunset.  Andrew manages a nana nap while I tap away at the keyboard and get some work done. Time to pack up, rug up and head back to the boardwalk for a sunset flight. Note to self; don’t forget to press record! The wow factor is exceptional as the sun begins to fall below the horizon. I’m flying back and forth, up and down and getting as much footage as I can. I need to photograph this sunset too, it’s just too pretty to miss. The reflections in the ocean are spectacular. The water looks like a sheet of ice, it’s breathtakingly beautiful. I can’t wait to get back to the park to do some editing of the drone footage.

Wildlife: dead rabbit, jellyfish, wren, mullet, garfish, crows, brown goshawk, chickens.

Day 172: Hamelin Pool to Galena Bridge

Waking up this morning to a very cloudy overcast day and I have just missed the best time to take a sunrise photograph. I could kick myself for sleeping that little bit later. I do manage a reasonable shot over the park. We are on the road by 9.15am and the winds are picking up along the way.

We are travelling 200km to a free camp at Galena Bridge on the Murchison River and we have experienced rain on the road today. A first in our 25 weeks of being on the road. The water is collecting along the highway, the ground is so hard and dry it doesn’t tolerate the water. The foliage along the highway is becoming dense and we are now seeing conifers and other trees with autumn tones appearing in their foliage. There are plenty of purple wildflowers and the occasional banksias.

There is free camping on both sides of the river, we take the southern side and secure a spot right by the fast flowing brown river. Not long after setting up the skies have opened up again, there is plenty of red mud around and I’m not looking forward to red paw prints all over the floor! It rains all afternoon. There is very little Telstra reception so I am busy writing this blog in notes tucked up on the bed.

Wildlife: eagles, sheep, swans, ducks, welcome swallow.

Day 173 – 175: Galena Bridge to Port Gregory

It rained on and off most of last night and there is plenty of puddles full of red mud all around the free camp site.  Waking up this morning it’s 7 degrees and by 9.00am when we are packed up and ready to leave it’s climbed to 11 degrees. I’m taking Cinta for her last walk before getting into the car and a young scottish backpacker in a kilt flies past me to the rivers edge and hangs it all out.  The amenities block are in the other direction and less than 200 metres from where his car is.  To top it off as we are getting into the car another young female backpacker also heads over to the river, squats and does her business.  It really is frustrating to witness and it gives everyone else who does the right thing a bad name when free camping.  We are both rugged up in the car and ready for the short drive of 110km into Port Gregory.

There is no water available for filling the van at Port Gregory so we make a stop at Northampton to fill up with water and also visit the friendly IGA to stock up on groceries.  Given that school holidays are right around the corner we have booked into the Port Gregory Caravan Park for the next 7 days.  It’s a small park with large grassy sites and concrete pads.  We’re here early so we are able to drive right through the site and are set up in no time.  The population of Port Gregory is 30 and the owner tells us that 15 live in the park.

The main attraction at Port Gregory is the Pink Lake called Hutt Lagoon which boasts a pink hue created by the presence of carotenoid-producing algae.  It’s a source of B-carotene, a food-colouring agent and source of vitamin A.  The Pink Lake is famous for fashion shoots including Lancôme’s Life is Beautiful campaign and Myer’s Jennifer Hawkins Summer collection.

Port Gregory is encircled by five kilometres of exposed coral reef and was originally developed to serve the Geraldine Leadmine.  It’s a picturesque small village also serviced by a general store.  The park is close to the beach and we take Cinta down each day for a long walk.  There has been bad weather recently along the coastline along with high tides and the beach is covered in deep ocean grasses, it just looks like truckloads of mulch has been dumped everywhere.

A short drive away is the Lynton Heritage Site; the only remaining site where it is possible to view how a convict hiring depot was laid out and functioned in the 1850’s in Western Australia.  The site has very high historic and social significance because of it’s association with convicts/ticket-of-leave men.   It was established in 1853 to provide a labour force for the Geraldine Mine and pastoral stations in the vicinity, however, was closed in 1857 because of the cost to the government to keep it running, coupled with the decline in the mining industry and many cases of sickness of the convicts.  It was staggering to see the remnants of the small confines that the convicts lived in.

Further on is the small seaside village of Horrocks.  Pretty as a picture as you drive over the hill into the village.  Crystal clear waters deepening into aqua and azure blue.  A larger village than Port Gregory with approx. 140 people swelling to full capacity during school holidays and the summer months.  We enjoyed morning tea by the beach before heading home through the countryside.  The drive back reminded us of driving through the Atherton Tablelands, lush farming areas and rolling hills.  The only difference being the wildflowers which are slowly starting to bloom.

Another week has come to a close and we are getting closer to our house sit on the southern side of Perth.

Wildlife: sheep, dead cow, galahs, cattle, horses, honey eater, laughing turtle dove, seagulls, pelicans.

Week 25 total expenses: $764.61 – great to get this weeks expenses down a little even with an experience included at $120 for the both of us.

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That’s a wrap for Week 25 of the Lap of the Map.

PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!