fiveinafourwheeldrive

Cossack a Pearling Harbour Ghost Town

Whilst staying at Point Sampson we visited the deserted historical town of Cossack. At one point in the late 1890s this was a booming pearling harbor and has a number of historic buildings evidencing the boom town that was once here but was later abandoned for Broome which had a more accessible port for the larger ships.

the court house

the court house

There was a grand old customs house building, a court house and we were very excited to see our first boab tree.

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The old school house was interesting and the information said that in 1898 the school mistress camped in a tent at the back of the school house building which Aaron and Holly thought was pretty cool.

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Inside the old store

Inside the old store

The old Buildings around Cossack

The old Buildings around Cossack

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The town was officially abandoned in 1910 as the development of Broome Port continued. Shockingly we learned from information at the museum and we found out the old customs house was used in the 1960s as a turtle soup factory…obviously before the protection of Turtles in the area.

From Point Sampson we visited the Murujuga National Park is WA’s newest national park only recognized in 2013. The site is nestled on the Burrup Peninsula at Deep George amongst the gas and iron ore industries. The Deep George site has literally thousands of ancient petroglyphs evidence of either a permanent or seasonal community of aboriginal people inhabited this area thousands of years ago. At Deep Gorge there is a small sign post indicating the area is of significant historical value and should be protected there is estimated to be 10,000 petroglyphs in the area.

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The Aboriginal Petroglyphs are ancient rock engravings and carvings some estimated to be more than 30,000 years old. The Deep Gorge is surrounded by large pile of rocks laid in place an estimated 2,200 million years ago during volcanic activity in the area and these large granite rocks have been used by the aboriginal peoples thousands of years ago to tell stories or leave messages.

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Human like figures

Human like figures



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two sharks?

two sharks?

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A turtle perhaps

A turtle perhaps

We all loved walking thru the gorge and spotting the engravings and there were many to be seen. I found it really interesting and quite special to think that these are possibly some of the earliest forms of communication left from these early civilizations of our indigenous people.

a kangaroo

a kangaroo

This looks like the anatomy of a turtle

This looks like the anatomy of a turtle

The next day we drove into Karratha where we saw more of the trains. This is where the trains all come to unload the ore. We drove along the peninsula and got a view of the loading bays and stock piles of iron ore.

Here we decided to stay at Point Samson which was just far enough away from the noisey processing of the iron ore – unloading and loading iron ore which occurs 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Karratha iron ore loading

Karratha iron ore loading

iron ore stock piles

iron ore stock piles

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Train lines into the port

Train lines into the port

Huge mining infrastructure

Huge mining infrastructure

On the Burrup Peninsula apart form Rio Tinto and the Iron Ore industry Karratha is the home to the major North West Shelf Project. We had viewed some large gas processing platforms off the coast these are drilling and drawing up natural gas from under the sea via a 135km submarine pipeline. We visited the Woodside Gas Plant visitor centre in Karratha and had an interesting couple of hours learning all about natural gas and how it is extracted and piped to Karratha via under the sea and then processed into liquid for transport overseas and to Perth. To change the gas into liquid form it is cooled down to minus 161’C to remove the other gasses. When changed the gas is 600 times smaller and therefore if they transported the gas whilst a gas they would need 600 more boats. The children all filled in a quiz and were more than pleased to receive chocolates, hats and water bottles for their efforts.

Woodside tour

Woodside tour

The gas pipes

The gas pipes

In the little town of Dampier not far from Karratha there is a monument to the Red Dog the Pilbara wanderer which was made famous by the movie recently. The dog lived and wandered around this part of the Pilbara and the children were all excited to visit the statue and read about the dog. We have down loaded the movie to watch on the ipad and they watched their second movie since leaving Perth. Don’t seem to be missing the TV at all – suggested we sell the tv when we get home but they don’t think that is a good idea.

Holly with the Red Dog

Holly with the Red Dog

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Red dog statue plark

Red dog statue plark

At Point Sampson the Caravan Park had three inflatable water slides which the children enjoyed to cool off in the afternoons.

Thong throwing contests in the caravan park.

Thong throwing contests in the caravan park.

sliding fun

sliding fun

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Big Trains

Big Trains

Trains in the Pilbarra

Trains in the Pilbarra

Rio Tinto trains

Rio Tinto trains

A train full of iron ore

A train full of iron ore

Andrew obtained his permit to drive the Rio Tinto Railway Road. We were we would see lots of trains and we did. Trains with empty carriages were heading to Tom Price and trains full of Iron ore were heading for the coast to be exported to China. We happened to be stopped at an intersection as one train passed and the driver tooted much to the kids delight. The road was a good quality and well maintained with only minor corrugations and mostly Rio Tinto work vehicles passing. Aaron tried to count the carriages on the trains and he counted 210 but we were told each train had 300 carriages.

We saw eight different trains over three hours so despite the down turn in the ore exports there is still quite a lot of activity. In Tom Price talking to some locals the town has been feeling the reduction of industry and there were a number of people already made redundant with more redundancies expected. There is not much out here apart from tourism without the iron ore industry.

The homestead at Milstream

The homestead at Milstream

To break up the journey to the coast we headed to Millstream Chichester NP. This is a NP which was formerly part of a large sheep station and a local indigenous group population as it is situated along the Hamersley River. The old station homestead built in the early 1930s has some old artifacts and information about the area. We walked around the grounds and we amazed at the clear flowing water canals behind the house and the date palm forest. Palms are not native to the area, or even Australia, so must have been introduced by the station owners at some stage.

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Gardens around the homestead

Gardens around the homestead

tambo covered in a bit of red dust

tambo covered in a bit of red dust

Beautiful lilly pads

Beautiful lilly pads

It was a beautiful area and nice for a brief stop over. We camped at the ‘stargazers’ camp ground which bush loos and reasonable spaced out camp sites but we chose this most because no generators allowed.

Updating the map

Updating the map

Our camp at Stargazers camp

Our camp at Stargazers camp

The next day after this having climbed two class 4 walks we felt brave enough to takle a class 5 and into Kermits Pool one of the gorges in the Weano Gorge. It was quite an adventure from rock hopping to wading thru water (Andrew carried the girls and Aaron climbed) then we had to climb along a shelf next to some rather deep flowing water in the bottom – we all climbed well and managed to keep the camera dry.

Then after going through a beautiful ampitheatre we came to a part called spider walk and Aaron climbed thru having so much fun. At the end we all had to climb along a ledge next to the Kermits Pool which had a small waterfall and just a small amount of sun. Not quite as cold as Circular Pool but still only in for a quick dip and Holly again wisely watched as we shivered and sat in the sun to warm up.

Aaron bravely first in at Kermits Pool

Aaron bravely first in at Kermits Pool

After this walk we drove to the Knox and Joffre lookouts and enjoyed the view of 4 huge gorges meeting.

We didn’t get to walk all the trails and gorges of Karijini so we will have to come back another day but what we saw we loved. More beautiful than my photos do justice.

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Aaron on the spider walk

Aaron on the spider walk

Climbing along the ledge next to the waters edge.

Climbing along the ledge next to the waters edge.

The trail into Kermits pool

The trail into Kermits pool

On the way out of Karijini we visited the Hamersley Gorge and the spa pools. It was overcast but still quite warm so we went for a quick dip after climbing the rocky path and enjoying views of the rainbow ripples of rock. Yet another spectacular gorge carved out my millions of years of water flows.

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Hamersley George

Hamersley George

Hamersley Gorge

Hamersley Gorge

The children were amazed and excited to get the red dirt to stick onto magnets at our camp site.

Camp at Karijini

Camp at Karijini

Magnet attracts dirt with iron content

Magnet attracts dirt with iron content

Magnets

Magnets

Excited about the dirt and magnets

Excited about the dirt and magnets

We were excited to arrive in the Pilbara after the gorgeous coast. When we arrived at Karijini we went to the information centre and booked our camping and we were told there had been two snake bites in the past week – so we were all on the alert for snakes. At the visitor centre they gave us kids information work books which had activities and information about the country and culture, animals and the gorges of Karijini – these were a great project for the kids.

View of the waterfall in Dales Gorge

View of the waterfall in Dales Gorge

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Karijini is the second largest National Park in WA and the traditional owners are the Banyjima, Yinhawangka and Kurrama Aboriginal People and they know the Hamersley Range as Karijini. I can understand why this country is special to the traditional owners and should be respected. It is a place for the soul. The park attracts 200-300 thousand tourists from Australia and all over the world and it is easy to see why, the spectacular red gorges were breath taking it is so beautiful – especially breath taking when you had a swim in the pools.

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We had our bikes and rode out to the start of the walking trails. (not far from camp) All the trails are well sign posted and there are difficulty grading placed on the walks from 1 easy to 5 difficult. We went down the first grade 4 walk into the Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool (Jobula) They were both awesome. IN the morning we swam in the Fortescue Falls which were quite warm and in the afternoon we came back with noodles so the kids could comfortably swim across to the waterfall.

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The next day we walked the circuit of Dales Gorge across the and then down through the gorge looping back to our bikes. We really enjoyed the different paths from grassey trails, to big rocky climbing, passing stepping stones across water and taking in the amazing scenery. It was beautiful just being in the gorge and looking at the huge scale of the rock walls above. We had lunch along the way and went for a swim at both ends. Another amazing day – we are really lucky.

Fern Pool

Fern Pool

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At the Circular Pool Andrew insisted on a dip and we had been warned it was possibly the coldest of the pools and it was freezing! Holly was wise to stay dry but Aaron, Bianca Andrew and I swam across to the waterfall which was warm but the pool was freezing. Bianca was reluctant to cross back and we were all shivering when we got out with one towel to share between us! The pool is in shade all day and was really cold.

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Circular Pool - water was freezing

Circular Pool – water was freezing

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As we rode back around the camp loop we spotted a Prado with Victorian number plates and it was the family from Brunswick who are friends of a friend and left town the same week we did. We caught up for a drink and the kids had a ball jumping around the camper trailer whilst the adults shared travel experiences and plans. It was a great night and lucky to meet up finally but kids were late to bed.

We had a big day driving after packing camp at Cape Range we restocked the food at Exmouth and headed for the Pilbara. On the way out we visited the Exmouth Light House which has amazing views.

Exmouth lighthouse built in  early 1900s

Exmouth lighthouse built in early 1900s

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The road out of Exmouth changed quickly from lovely flat plains covered with spinefex and dotted with large termite mounds to big mountain ranges across the horizon. The views were getting us very excited about the next part of our travels.

The termite mounds

The termite mounds

Mountains coming into view on the road

Mountains coming into view on the road

Road inland

Road inland

Hammersley Ranges

Hammersley Ranges

We took the left hand unsealed road into Tom Price missing Paraburdoo. When we arrived at Tom Price and had to drive around this bit truck which lost its trailer.


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We visited the information centre Andrew wanted to know about getting a permit to travel along the Tom Price Railway Road a patch of dirt road owned by Rio Tinto. Whilst in town we did get Fresh Fish from the ‘Pilbara Fish Truck’ which travels around.

Lunch stop

Lunch stop

Lizard we found on the lunch stop - he had lost his tail.

Lizard we found on the lunch stop – he had lost his tail.

Hammersley Ranges

Hammersley Ranges

Cows cross our path on the road to Tom Price

Cows cross our path on the road to Tom Price

Cow on the road ahead.

Cow on the road ahead.

After we parked the trailer at the only caravan park in town, which was pricey but had good and clean facilities, we headed up Mount Nameless, 1128m above sea level one of the highest in WA only 3k from Tom Price and the highest mount in WA accessable by vehicle via 4×4 only track. Mt Nameless which actually has an aboriginal name of Jarndrunmunhna meaning place of wallabies.

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Views down into the mining operations at Tom Price

Views down into the mining operations at Tom Price

Views from the top of

Views from the top of

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Sunset from the top

Sunset from the top of Mt Jarndrunmunhna

The track gave Andrew another chance to use his new low range gears (money well spent he says J ) we were warned the track is ‘Very Rough’ the track was rocky and steep but overall it was not too bad. The views from the top were awesome looking down over Tom Price and the Mine Site. The open cut iron ore mine is huge and from here it was clear that it is a huge operation. We could see the big haul trucks and lots of trains being loaded with ore. The views over the Hamersely Ranges were quite beautiful and well worth the drive.

Whilst the Mountain has two names the original indigenous name and the Mt Nameless on the way down crawling with the new gears we thought of a name for Mt Nameless….Holly – Mt Red Rock, Aaron – Mt McIntosh and Bianca – Steep Mountain. When we got to Karijini there is a quote from a local Aboriginal saying I don’t know why they named Mt Jarndrunmunhna Mt Nameless when it already had a name but they didn’t ask us – this is a bit sad.

Big truck in Tom Price

Big truck in Tom Price

The next day Andrew had to watch his safety video to be able to get the permit for the Rio Tinto owned road we headed into town to visit the library but regrettably it was closed on Wednesdays and the kids were disappointed. Smiles all around after the purchase of some ‘Red Dog’ souvenirs – and we bought the book to read – this is the story of a dog that lived in and around the Pilbara in the 1970s. Pocket money well spent.

Red Dog souvenirs

Red Dog souvenirs

Cape Range National Park

After the amazing Coral Bay we headed further up the Ningaloo Reef to a National Park on the coral coast which is just near Exmouth. We were originally planning to travel up the beach camp along the coast at Ningaloo Station but Yardie Creek had been flowing for a number of weeks following the cyclone that came through in early March and the locals don’t expect the creek to be passable for a few years.

Stunning views

Stunning views

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We could see why caravans not recommended on this road.

We could see why caravans not recommended on this road.

Lunch stop on Cliff edge around the gorge

Lunch stop on Cliff edge around the gorge

View to the gorge

View to the gorge

The narrow and steep road into the gorge.

The narrow and steep road into the gorge.

Views from top of the road out to the bay

Views from top of the road out to the bay

Road on gorge got wet and narrow

Road on gorge got wet and narrow

On the way to Cape Range we took a short side trip into Charles Knife Gorge to the Charles Knife gorge Lookout. At the start of the track it warns that you should not take caravans and when we reached the track we reailsed why – the road was a good unsealed road but it was a narrow and winding road with cliff edges and some parts where only one vehicle could pass. The drive was spectacular although were not impressed greatly with the lookout. We had timed the drive with our planned lunch stop and parked to enjoy spectacular views down into the gorges and out to the Exmouth Gulf.

The BIG prawn!

The BIG prawn!

Exmouth water park riding the dolphins

Exmouth water park riding the dolphins

Exmouth water park great relief from heat whilst mum shops

Exmouth water park great relief from heat whilst mum shops

We drove through Exmouth and had a brief look around and we found the BIG prawn (locals have nick named him Shaun the Prawn) and the BIG whale shark but the kids and dad didn’t rate the whale shark as ‘big’ given it was smaller than the one we swam with so they all refused to pose and I had no option but to do a selfie of myself and the Exmouth Whale Shark!

Whale shark kids didn't think was big!

Whale shark kids didn’t think was big!

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At Cape Range we were lucky to get a spot on Osprey Loop camp ground with a view of the beach. The Cape Range National Park require booking online which is annoying as you can not book less than 48hours ahead. Cape Range NP has just had a make over and they have good new bush loos. We were here for Mothers day and I was spoiled with lovely breakfast and cards from all three kids.

Camp at Cape Range Osprey campground - we could see water

Camp at Cape Range Osprey campground – we could see water

Dishwasher on the road!

Dishwasher on the road!

Mothers day breakfast

Mothers day breakfast

Bianca new pancake jam and banana

Bianca new pancake jam and banana

Mothers day morning cards and pancakes

Mothers day morning cards and pancakes

We loved being in a National Park rather than a caravan park – MORE space. At Cape Range NP we had a pretty relaxing time for three nights apart from the daily school work we did a bit of fishing again without any luck. The snorkeling from our camp was okay but then we went around to Turquoise Beach and the snorkeling was fantastic apart form being a stunning beach with white sand and crystal clear water the beach has amazing snorkeling. It was understandably busy with tourists but there was lots of interesting coral and fish and we found a turtle and Holly, Aaron and I swam with him for about half an hour. This was my mothers day highlight.

From Cape Range we headed down to Yardie Creek (Northern side) and walked along the cliff edge to view Yardie Creek Gorge. The views were stunning. It was clear to see why the creek was unpassable!

The Creek crossing 4x4 only - current boats only!

The Creek crossing 4×4 only – current boats only!

Creek crossing definitely not possible.

Creek crossing definitely not possible.

We all enjoyed the walk and scramble along the cliff taking in the view and watching an Osprey flying down and catching fish in the creek below. I was constantly asking the kids to take care and not go close the edge – a little nerve racking at times. This Gorge was the first of many we will be seeing and we all enjoyed the walk.

View with the ocean in the back ground

View with the ocean in the back ground

Another view of Yardie Creek Gorge

Another view of Yardie Creek Gorge

Walked up the gorge it was hot but we all enjoyed the views

Walked up the gorge it was hot but we all enjoyed the views

Beautiful Yardie Creek Gorge

Beautiful Yardie Creek Gorge

Kangaroo spotted on the walk up Yardie Creek

Kangaroo spotted on the walk up Yardie Creek

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On the way back to camp Andrew had to try a small track heading into the hills it was marked on our Hema map and he wanted to check it out. At the Exmouth information centre they didn’t even know the track existed and our map suggested it was a shortcut back to the main road thru the range. So we drove up and it was the first time in a while Andrew got to use his new low range. The track was rough and rocky and we went up for a few kilometres before turning enjoying the sunset and heading back to camp. We later found out it was a mining track that is now used by the nearby military base for training.

Whilst at Cape Range we went snorkelling every day there are a number of beautiful beaches with different fish and coral our favourite one was Turquoise Bay where we you enter off the beach and there is an amazing reef with huge coral bombies formations. We were lucky enough to find a gorgeous big loggerhead turtle and Aaron Holly and I swam with it for about half an hour – a really special experience.

Turquoise bay Cape Range NP

Turquoise bay Cape Range NP

Turquoise Bay ready to snorkel

Turquoise Bay ready to snorkel

The Coral Coast is beautiful and it is clear to see why the Ningaloo Reef and the surrounding area is World Heritage listed. We were a bit sad to be leaving but it was time to head inland and get into some more gorges at Karijini.

After our turtle snorkel amazing!

After our turtle snorkel amazing!

After talking to the children and a couple of days of snorkelling in Coral Bay we decided to extend our stay a bit longer and booked onto a swim with the ‘whale shark’ adventure to ensure we had good conditions out on the boat we booked when the swell was lowest. We chose Ningaloo Reef Dive as they had the biggest best equipped boat and they were not going to charge us for Bianca as she is only 4 and we were not sure that she or Holly would want to get into the big blue ocean and swim with a big fish.

Ningaloo Reef Boat

Ningaloo Reef Boat

Wet suits for the adventure into open water

Wet suits for the adventure into open water

We had be at the dive shop by 730am ( a challenge in itself with three kids under 9), we got our wet suits fitted and then on the bus out to the boat and onto the boat by 830. Then we had short boat ride out to the edge of the reef to a lovely coral formation to have a ‘trial snorkel’ and the children were all keen to jump into the crystal clear water. It was approx. 5-6 metres deep and the reef was alive with lots of brightly coloured fish and we were also lucky enough to see some turtles and two 1.5metre reef sharks. Holly nearly jumped on my back when we saw two reef sharks cooly swimming below and through her snorkel shouted “SHARK” but when I the okay signal she was keen to snorkel above them and observe. Aaron also loved seeing the reef sharks.

Aaron Holly and Mum after a snorkel

Aaron Holly and Mum after a snorkel

On the way to find the whale shark

On the way to find the whale shark

The ‘whale sharks’ are poorly names as they are neither a whale or a shark – they do not breath on the surface they have gills like a fish and they are not a shark – they have no sharp teeth they are filter feeders like the whales. They do have a large dorsal fin looks a bit like a shark but whilst big they don’t look very scary up close like the real sharks because they don’t have any teeth.

Whale sharks visit the Ningaloo reef every year to feed o plankton and other small fish in the area however we were told there is not very much known about them globally. They are harmless to humans and can vary in size from 3 metres to 17 metres in length – although the big ones swim too fast.

Aaron was loving the snorkeling and happily swam off giving chase to a turtles we found one poor Turtle had a broken shell and only three paddles (legs) – this made us feel happier about three legged Turtle at the Aquarium near Denham. Bianca was great watching the action snorkeling too but she got colder faster – the smallest full body wet suits were size 6 so she was in two spring wet suits. Whilst snorkelling we saw turtles, reef sharks, lots of fish, and on the boat we spotted dolphins, a sea snake to add to the excitement.

Fish and coral

Fish and coral

Coral on ningaloo

Coral on ningaloo

School of fish on the Ningaloo

School of fish on the Ningaloo

After the first snorkel it was back on board and waiting for the aerial plane to find us a whale shark. Ningaloo Reef Dive have their own spotter plane which circles around until a whale shark is spotted then the boat heads over to the location and the swim with the whale shark begins.

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Whilst waiting for the whale sharks the boat circles around the outer reef. It was very calm only 1metre swell however both Holly and I started to feel less than 100% so we lay down on deck. At 10.30 we got the call that a whale shark had been spotted and the boat zoomed off. The marine parks have established guidelines for tour operators for a maximum of 10 people in the water and you need to be 2metres from head of the fish and minimum of 4 metres from the tail. When we got in the big open water we were 11km from shore and at a depth of 65m (you cant see the bottom) and we all we jumped in off the back of the boat to swim with the biggest fish in the sea.

Michaela and Holly with the whale shark

Michaela and Holly with the whale shark

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Andrew and Bianca with the whale shark

Andrew and Bianca with the whale shark

Aaron with the whale shark

Aaron with the whale shark

It was AWESOME, AMAZING and totally BEAUTIFUL This big graceful giant of the sea swims along only a 1metre from the surface of the ocean and we were dropped and told to watch him swim towards us and then chose a side and when his side fins reach you start swimming and we had to swim really hard to keep up with him. We would swim as fast as we could with our fins and snorkels and watching the big giant whale shark just cruising along. The crew also helped Aaron and Holly to keep up with the Whale Shark whilst Dad and Bianca were a team. We were so proud of the children. (The years of swimming lessons paid off)

Andrew and Bianca with the whale shark

Andrew and Bianca with the whale shark

It was a thrill just to have achieved the experience as a family. Aaron, Holly and Bianca were fantastic all jumping in and swimming with this amazing big fish.

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Big tail

Big tail swimming away

We nicknames our whale shark ‘spotty’ as whale sharks are characteristically covered in spots. We were told he was a male and he was about 6 metres long – which when he is swimming towards you in the middle of the big blue sea is HUGE.

Aaron swimming as fast as possible

Aaron swimming as fast as possible

Spotty the whale shark

Spotty the whale shark

Lunch included an apple swan which the girls loved!

Lunch included an apple swan which the girls loved!

After the wale sharks we had another snorkel and lunch before back to shore a big day out. We all had a a great day and one that we will all remember forever…special memories.

After the all clear on the cyclone risk we decided to head further North to Coral Bay an excellent spot for visiting the Ningaloo Reef. We were all keen to use our snorkeling skills and see some marine life. thumb_IMG_5258_1024 Whilst we don’t usually choose caravan parks we decided to stop here for a couple of nights –  we have been finding it a bit hard to avoid caravan parks as there are limited ‘free camps’ in a number of the locations we have visited. thumb_IMG_5257_1024 Coral bay is a tiny town on the coast with two caravan parks, a backpackers, one hotel, 4 restaurants, a bakery, a newsagent, a dive shop, and a new pub. We had to stay at one of the caravan parks and the ‘Peoples’ park was recommended and this was closer to the beach but not by much.   The beach in coral bay is beautiful crystal clear water and there were an abundance of small an big fish only metres from shore. Andrew had all the children snorkeling and getting in practice for the potential Whale Shark adventure. Aaron loves snorkeling, Holly whilst a confident swimmer and happy to snorkel was initially a bit intimidated by large snapper swimming right up to our faces. Bianca loved seeing the big fish and was almost fearless but even with the half wet suits on she was feeling cold in water temperatures of 26’C. Beautiful Coral Bay We rode our bikes around Coral Bay which was really great. Ready to tackle bike with no training wheels! Trailer bike riding fun Riding around together Preparing dinner at camp. thumb_IMG_5259_1024 thumb_IMG_5293_1024   Bianca wanted to ride her bike with the big kids and asked for the training wheels to come off. Andrew took her on many a lap of he caravan park and she was doing a great job with much encouragement from both Aaron and Holly. We tried out luck with fishing on a beach just out side the marine park zone and we thought for certain we would catch one of the big snapper that we had been snorkelling with but somehow the big snapper seem to know where the marine park ends and they weren’t biting on our bait. Sunset fishing was still fun and beautiful. Sunset at fishing Fishing at sunset Coral Bay Fishing at Coral bay b thumb_IMG_4496_1024

Due to the cyclone threat we headed back to Carnarvon to do some shopping and work out the next direction of our travels. Carnarvon is home to a large communication dish with a Museum so we took the opportunity to visit the Space Museum. Similar to the Parkes Dish but the Space Museum has a lot more interesting items about Space. (something that is hard to get on the road :))

The Dish use to talk to the men on the moon

The dish

The dish was also used extensively before the age of space satellites to allow global communications transmitting information and messages including domestic international phone communications. The exhibition had a lot of items and information about space and old items from the 1960s, which the children enjoyed.

View from the platform on the Dish

The Carnarvon Dish was used for the communications on 16 July 1969 when the US Space Ship Apollo XI went to the moon and they had an Apollo XI space ship simulator, which we all squeezed into and experienced take off.

About to take off in the space shuttle McIntosh Astronauts Getting into the space ship

I found these old tapes, which hold approximately the same amount of information as a 2GB USB device. How things have changed.

These old general ledger file tapes would all fit on a USB now

The most exciting thing for the day was definitely the Space Ice Cream – freeze dried ice cream!!

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We wouldn’t recommend the space ice cream at $10 for 19grams of creamy tasting dry stuff that was a bit like eating cardboard.

We had originally planned to head out to Mt Augustas from here however there was a risk that forecast rain possibly causing road closures which could get us stranded at Mt Augustus. In addition the road to Karijini from Mt Augustus was closed due to rain in previous weeks. We decided to head up the coral coast.

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Point Quobba light house

Point Quobba light house

After leaving the beautiful Steep Point we headed up the coast and through the town of Carnarvon to stock up on provisions, do some washing and have a shower! We stayed the night in a very clean and comfortable caravan park called the Wintersun Park. It’s a caravan park full of grey nomads travelling north to escape the cooler weather.

From Carnarvon we drove out to Point Quobba, we saw the light house and we were met with the following sign beside the coast. A timely reminder of the power of the ocean.

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At the end of Point Quobba there were a number of old fishing sheds built in the 1950s these run down sheds are all that remains of smaller scale independent fishing industry which has now been replaced by bigger fishing industry based at the Carnarvon and Karratha.

Quota fishing huts

Quota fishing huts

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We were headed up the coast to Red Bluff on an easy unsealed road that follows along behind the sand dunes allowing on glimpses of the coast until we turned and headed up over a sand dune and we were greeted with this spectacular view of Red Bluff.

We turned the corner and saw this view...awesome.

We turned the corner and saw this view…awesome.

This little pocket of coast is privately owned land at Quobba Station which was once a significant sheep station in years gone by. Red Bluff has a reputation as a fantastic surf location but the surfing (when conditions are good) is out on the point surf break. We arrived and the camp managers were on a rare weekend off so we were greeted by a camper helping manage the bookings and we chose the vacant camp closest to the beach and we were pleased to find fewer flies at Red Bluff. The beach waves were not surfable, big waves that were break onto a steep beach. Aaron and I had an absolute ball riding the waves right up the beach on the boogie boards.

Riding the boogie boards

Riding the boogie boards

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Andrew after a swim at Red bluff

Andrew after a swim at Red bluff

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Kids on the beach

Kids on the beach

We had three nights here at Red Bluff which was a nice change of pace from the busier tourist trail of activities. We wet for walks, swam , watched dolphins and large manta rays and did a bit of fishing. A neighbor was catching big whiting but we only caught two little ones that we kissed and threw back.

Family photo lots of happy memories from here

Family photo lots of happy memories from here

Kids on the beach at Red Bluff

Kids on the beach at Red Bluff

Our camp next to the beach

Our camp next to the beach

on the beach at Red Bluff

on the beach at Red Bluff

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Bianca giving the thumbs up

Bianca giving the thumbs up

Red Bluff has a very laid back cool feel – very surfie – there is a small store/café that has a pizza night and a few basics and the camp managers offer coffee if the sun is shining and their solar power can operate the coffee machine. There are good sized camps spots and bush loos with sawdust (which the kids found very novel) and you need to be fully self sufficient unless you are staying at one of the ‘flash glamping tents’ these have solar power, hot water showers, fridges and bbqs – amazing views and the soothing sound of ocean surf rolling in and out.

Bianca at sunset

Bianca at sunset

Amazing Sunset at Red Bluff.

Amazing Sunset at Red Bluff.

Sunset at Red Bluff

Sunset at Red Bluff

Red bluff sunsets

Red bluff sunsets

On our third night the camp managers came down with the news there was a cyclone threatening (Cyclone Quang) to hit the coast and we may be required to leave. The area had been hit by a cyclone only five weeks earlier and had suffered a fair bit of damage. At the time of the warning Quang was a category 4 off the coast and possibly a category 2 or 3 when expected to hit land. (note the highest rating for cyclones is level 4!) We called my sister on the satellite phone to get an update of the forecast directly. It didn’t sound too bad although still a risk to the area.

We did an afternoon trip up to check out Gnaraloo another station beach stay further up the coast the road in was a bit rougher. They have more facilities, flushing toilets and showers but charge a lot more and the camp ground is more densely set out. The coast at Gnaraloo was really beautiful and there was another big protected reef bay which would be great for snorkeling but it was too cold and a bit overcast so we didn’t get the chance. Gnaraloo is another famous surf destination and the surf break usually runs just off the coast near the reef ledge – it looks totally scary to me – we saw some young guys having a go but the waves weren’t too great.

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Holly at Gnaraloo

Holly at Gnaraloo

There are surfers in the waves here at Gnaraloo

There are surfers in the waves here at Gnaraloo

View from the cliffs at Red Bluff

View from the cliffs at Red Bluff

We had a slightly sleepless night worrying ‘what if the cyclone came in earlier than predicted? how we would fare with only a canvas tent over our heads.’ The lovely ocean nearby was totally pounding into shore evident of the wind and turbulence at sea. Fortunately when we woke it was overcast and a bit windy but no cyclone. We decided to head back to Carnarvon and take cover anyway.

As we ate breakfast on our last morning at Red Bluff a lovely pod of dolphins were frolicking near the beach and we were all delighted by their visit. They were a totally different variety of dolphin almost black in colour and a much pointer nose.

Big dumping waves at Red Bluff and the point break out the back.

Big dumping waves at Red Bluff and the point break out the back.

Shells burried in the rock

Shells burried in the rock

Shells and fossils in the rocks

Shells and fossils in the rocks

Goats on the hill over our camp

Goats on the hill over our camp

Red bluff big waves

Red bluff big waves

A cool Bangarra on the road (translate big Lizard)

A cool Bangarra on the road (translate big Lizard)

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We loved Red Bluff and would return anytime it is beautiful – a special little hidden gem.

Our last view of Red Bluff until we return.

Our last view of Red Bluff until we return.