Despite Gerry tweaking her back, we enjoyed Kalbarri and would really like to go back and spend more time there. Unfortunately, we’ll have to save that for another trip. And so we headed out on the road to Jurien Bay a journey, of approximately 350 kilometers, that was supposed to take just under four hours.
I was expecting to take the coastal route out of Kalbarri but the satnav had other ideas and we found ourselves back, heading South, on the Northwest Coastal Highway before rejoining the Brand Highway. We made good progress and soon made the turn onto Indian Ocean Drive.
Indian Ocean Drive is a much quieter road. I had read that there were no road trains on this road. Not strictly true, we did encounter a couple but they are less intimidating as they are having to travel more slowly due to the winding nature of the road.
AS we followed the road to Leeman we became aware that the clouds were thickening and that somewhere up ahead it looked like a lot of rain was being dumped. By the time we pulled into Leeman it had gotten quite dark and the ever-present coastal wind was winding itself up into a frenzy. We topped up with fuel and continued down the road.
Shortly after leaving Leeman we saw a huge lightning strike. What I called a floor to ceiling bolt. I think the storm we had been trailing stopped and waited for us. And there we were driving with windscreen wipers going full pelt, headlights on and our speed less than half what it was.
I became aware of flashing lights coming up fast behind me and I pulled off onto the verge to let them go by, three fire service trucks on a mission. On our way again but a short distance up the road we moved over to allow some more to go by.
We eventually cleared the storm, the rains petered out and it became brighter. At Green Head we pulled off the road to look out over the ocean and at the storm clouds.
This was the filthiest stop we had made, north of Perth. Alongside this view-point there was heaps of litter and just off the tarmac was masses of used toilet paper and disposable nappies as well as the bane of the modern world, wrappers and containers from numerous takeaway establishments. I was surprised that there wasn’t a supermarket trolley.
Arriving in the Jurien Bay area we prepared to locate the B & B. This was easier said than done as the satnav had decided that the B & B was located off-road to our left. At the next turn we hung a u-turn and headed back thinking we had missed a farm entrance or something similar. But no, the satnav seemed to be suggesting that we go off-road and follow a line of power lines disappearing into the bush. Not prepared to do that we continued down the road and towards the centre of Jurien Bay where we came across an information board and map. There we found an ad for our B & B, helpfully marked with a grid reference. The only problem was that the map wasn’t sporting a “you are here” arrow. As luck would have it a truck pulled in to empty the bins. The driver was very helpful and knew exactly where we needed to go.
Firmly on the scent of our accommodation we headed back the way we came. It was around this time that Gerry began to feel unwell. Not just her back but also some kind of skin irritation. She was itching all over. We think it was probably a reaction to the pain killers she had just taken. Either way she didn’t want to stay anywhere, she just wanted to go home. Given we were so close to the B & B, I said we had to do the courteous thing and go in an explain why we wouldn’t be stopping the night.
The landlady was very understanding, even offering us tea before we headed on back to Perth. When we declined, she pointed out to us that, South of Jurien Bay, Indian Ocean Drive was closed due to bushfires. That explained the fire service trucks that had passed us earlier. Her recommendation was for us to go back to the Brand Highway, which is what we did.
As we headed on our way to Perth we began to see the smoke from the bushfire, mingling with the clouds. The smoke stack was to be visible to us for most of our journey back to Perth…
After around seven hours of driving, broken up by pee and fuel stops and, much to my son-in-laws surprise, we arrived back home, a whole day early.
We were sad to have missed Jurien Bay but never has a cup of tea tasted better.