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!

Pink Lake

Week 9 | Ararat to Tintinara

Day 57 – 58: Ararat

Belinda has taken me for a drive to One Tree Hill, you may recall seeing it on the The Biggest Looser in 2014.  I can’t imagine walking up this hill at all – it looks far too difficult! It’s an amazing view looking out over the Grampians. The countryside is so dry, it’s easy to see why fires take hold and destroy so much land. To the other side the mountain is known as the pregnant lady lying at rest.

Ararat is home to J-Ward which was originally the Ararat County Gaol, an Australian prison, of the latter a psychiatric facility to house the criminally insane. Perched at the top of the hill, it overlooks the Alexandra Gardens and lake.

Andrew, Cinta and I wander the gardens. The fragrance of the roses is wafting through the chilly air, they are in full bloom and the bees are busy collecting nectar. There is also a themed Japanese Island but unfortunately it’s closed due to 3 large trees which were recently removed.

A visit to the local market with Bel and Jan has seen a couple of purchases. The first being a pegless clothesline.  It has 12 slides (24 points), 2 bungee cords and is 2 metres in length.  I think it will be great to string up on the awning to hang our towels up outside each day. The second purchase is a pair of heated socks at $2.50 I’m willing to take a chance on these. They look like any normal pair of socks, I’m not quite sure why they are sold as being “heated”.  My feet are quite warm so I’m a happy camper! We all decide that morning tea is in order so we head down to Fred and Bet’s Coffee Shop and let me tell you they have the best Fererro Roche Cheesecake.

Ararat has been cold, windy and drizzly for 3 of the 5 days that we have been here. The wood fire has been burning continuously since we arrived and there have been many conversations with family and new friends, loads of laughs and great memories made. Not to mention a few quiet drinks along the way…

A special mention of new friends Jan and Bones for the home made relish, tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers & capsicum and a very special hand made candle holder. We thoroughly enjoyed their company.

We can’t thank Bel, Mick and Ethan enough, it was so great to spend time with them all and to catch up with Matty at his birthday party. A great home stay and we were so lucky to take away home cooked beetroot and pickled cucumbers. We are truely blessed.

Wildlife: Sheep, ducks, budgies, finches, possum tail, and horses.

Day 59-60: Horsham

Waking up in Ararat to 5 degrees and low lying cloud. I’m very cold. We’ve lived beside the fire for the past few days and our clothes are smelling of smoke. Both Andrew and I have our Machu Picchu beanies on and the clothes are layered. It’s time to pack up and head for Horsham for 2 nights.

Home is the Wimmera Lakes Caravan Park, although it’s not on a lake. It’s a very old park and looks like it needs some TLC. There are a plenty of drive through sites, no grass here though it’s all gravel. The amenities are tired but clean. It’s time for me to catch up on some work again so the afternoon is spent on the keyboard.

We are heading for an overnight low of 6 and sunset is a brilliant orange, it doesn’t disappoint. Sleeping in becomes easier every day in the colder weather and I’m getting used to my morning cuppa in bed. It’s hard to believe that we used to get up at 5am to walk the beach at home and watch the sun rising.

It’s baking and washing day and then some time to explore Horsham. We take a walk along the Wimmera River at Sawyer Park. Horsham is so dry and most gardens consist of stones or chip bark and native plants. There is a modular pumptrack beside the river, a Lions community project, great for the kids.

A visit to the Horsham Regional Art Gallery is also on the agenda. It’s housed in the old town hall, an Art Deco Building. The current exhibition is “In Her Words” curated by Olivia Poloni, it’s a touring exhibition of photography of women focussing on women behind and in front of the camera. There are some amazing photographs in this exhibition.

Wildlife:  Sheep, major mitchells, crested doves, wrens, sparrows, black cockatoos

Day 61: Kaniva

It’s a pleasant 17 degrees when we depart Horsham and head out onto the highway for Kaniva.  There are hundreds of little starlings all perched along the power lines, it’s quite a sight.  We’re stopping at Kaniva as we are getting close to the South Australian border and I stocked up on fruit and vegies before we left Ararat so we’ll have a good go at eating what we can before the quarantine drop off bins.

We pass through Dimboola the wheatbelt service centre along the Wimmera River where wheat, oats and barley are grown on agricultural land.  There are large deposits of the grain alongside the silos all covered with blue tarps.

Further along we come to the Pink Lake.  I’ve seen many beautiful photos of the lake at sunrise and sunset.  The salt lake gets its colour from the red algae that grows after intense rain, this is also the best time to view the lake.  There hasn’t been any rain lately so the lake is a very pale salmon pink.  It’s amazing to walk on, it’s quite crystalised and really hard under foot, but to the touch it’s soft almost like powdered snow.

Tonight we are staying at a very small caravan park in Kaniva right beside the local swimming pool.  There is no-one else there when we drive in, so we decide to have some caravan reversing practice rather than taking one of the two drive through sites.  Andrew has quite a few attempts to reverse in and then he let’s me have a go at it.  We haven’t had to reverse much on this trip so far and now I know why.  Patience is a virtue…  Along comes another van into the drive and I start to panic as I’m cutting off the whole roadway.  Andrew quickly explains to the couple that we are having reversing practice and I slowly manouvre the van so that they can drive past to their site.  Andrew then takes over and drives out and heads straight for the drive through site.  Later in the afternoon, the couple drive past and ask if Andrew would like to give his wife driving lessons – if only they knew…

After we set up we head into town to have a look around the township.  Kaniva has a population of around 803 people and there is some interesting sheep artwork in the main street, so I’m keen to see what that is all about.  The sheep art was a community project to acknowledge the importance role sheep have played in the past and present.  Thirty five community groups and over 150 locals painted the sheep which depicted the daily life of the the town.  Each sheep also has a tiny hidden windmill motif.  They are so bright and colourful and a definite asset to the main street.  A few of my favourites are below.

We also stumble across the Kaniva Puppet Shop, one of only a few still operating in Australia.  It’s an amazing store filled with finger puppets, hand puppets and marionettes.  Children are encouraged to perform an impromptu puppet show while visiting the store.  It’s a real fun place that I could recommend stopping at if you are travelling with children.

It’s afternoon tea time and we can’t pass by the Heart Felt Cafe without stopping in for a cappucino and cake.  The store has a lot of vintage 60’s furnishings and home made cakes and slices. It did not disappoint!

Wildlife: Starlings, dead kangaroos, sheep.

Day 62 – 63 Tintinara

It’s 10am before we head off from Kaniva and it’s already 21 degrees.  It is warming up and we are expecting 34 degrees later today.  The caravan park had a drop box for left over fruit and vegies and other guests were welcome to help themselves or any leftovers are distributed to needy families in the area.  What a great idea.

We are free camping for the next 2 nights at Lake Indawarra in Tintinara.  There is no one at the site when we arrive and we’ve read on Wikicamps that some sites were very sandy.  We take a walk around and choose our spot away from the sandy patches.  The lake has recently been dredged and is slowly being refilled.  The photos of the lake pre dredging are beautiful and you can easily see that it would be spectacular on sunset.    There is a clubhouse for the Action Club, they are a not for profit club that raises money and works hard for their community.  The only facilities at the Lake are toilets, a cold outdoor shower and bbq facilities.  Donations are requested, we are more than happy to leave one.

Tintinara is on the Dukes Highway and also the Adelaide-Melbourne rail line.  The rail line is right beside the lake, however it’s not as noisy as we thought it would be.  There is under 300 people live in Tintinara and there is not much to see here.  I was lucky to just catch the local foodworks store as they were about to close at lunch time on Saturday and managed to pick up a few supplies.

There is a terrific Visitor Information Centre that stocks local arts and crafts.  It’s packed with knitted and crocheted beanies, jumpers and lots of childrens clothes.  There is home made jams, relishes and biscuits just to name a few.  It’s well worth a visit if you are passing.

Waking up this morning to a pea-souper.  The fog is so thick we can barely see the silos.  It’s travel day today and we decide as there is no one left at the camp site we’ll do some caravan reversing practice.  We’ve done a few YouTubes overnight so we set up a parking bay and Andrew is up first.  He has 3 tries and does really well, the final trial run gets him into the pretend site in 5 minutes.  Then, it’s my turn.  After 30 minutes I’m in the pretend site next door, I didn’t quite make it.  Never mind, more practice is required!

Wildlife:  Sheep, crows, dead rabbit, parrots, crows.

Week 9 total expenses:  $770.83

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That’s a wrap for Week 9 of the Lap of the Map.

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